The National Association of State Chief Information Officers on Thursday announced its federal advocacy priorities for 2024, adding artificial intelligence to a list of priorities carried over from last year.
The association calls its newest priority, “Artificial Intelligence states leading the way,” which indicates its intention to support states’ work implementing and regulating AI, particularly as generative AI has spiked in popularity over the past year.
“We want to encourage the federal government, both Congress and agencies to look to what states have already done as they consider AI federal regulations and legislation,” Alex Whitaker, NASCIO’s government affairs director said in a video announcement. “But also to remind those in the federal government that states require resources of assistance to implement a lot of these policies want to make sure there was viewed them as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
The group’s focus on AI adds to a list that already includes:
- Ensuring responsible implementation of the state and local cybersecurity grant program
- Expanding and strengthening the state cybersecurity workforce
- Harmonizing disparate federal cybersecurity regulations
- Continuing to increase adoption of the .gov domain.
Meredith Ward, NASCIO’s deputy executive director, told StateScoop that the association is assisting states that are establishing guardrails to ensure the responsible and safe use of AI within government. She said that with an issue as dominant as AI, no state can create policies, adopt software or establish best uses without the support of the federal government.
“We really need the federal government to help,” Ward said. “So it’s working together to make sure that the federal government isn’t doing anything that would negatively impact or stand in the way of states of getting assistance from the feds on this huge issue.”
President Joe Biden in October issued an executive order on AI that established security standards for federal agencies and ordered new research of the fast-developing technology. Dozens of states, meanwhile, have in recent months enacted new policies to rein in generative AI.
“The federal government is this large entity, and it takes more time for them to move generally than it does for states and we understand that. We certainly don’t expect for the federal government to act overnight,” Ward said of the lack of national policy governing states’ use of generative AI. “But I think that because of the explosion of this technology, continuing to try and maybe speeding things up is a good idea.”
As to the group’s ongoing cybersecurity priorities, Ward encouraged states to take advantage of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s $1 billion state and local cybersecurity grant program, most of which is marked for use by local governments.
“One of the things that I always hear from our states is either, ‘I don’t have the authority to work with local governments’ or ‘I don’t have funding,'” Ward said. “So while the program hasn’t completely solved the funding aspect, it’s definitely a huge step in the right direction.”