Rhode Island governor creates AI task force, data chief role, AI ‘center of excellence’

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee signed an executive order creating several new initiatives designed to improve the state's use of AI.
Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee
Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee speaks at a U.S. Department of Labor event on Nov. 2, 2021. (U.S. Department of Labor)

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee on Thursday signed an executive order creating an artificial intelligence task force, a new chief data officer role and an AI “center of excellence.”

The new AI task force will be chaired by former Rep. Jim Langevin, whom McKee also recently selected to head up the state’s new Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. According to the order, the task force will be comprised of members appointed by McKee from both the public and private sectors. The task force is charged with exploring ways AI can make state government more efficient, enhance services and prepare the state to responsibly support the advancement of the tech in Rhode Island’s private sector.

“When it comes to technology, data security, and individual privacy continue to be our top priorities,” Brian Tardiff, Rhode Island chief digital officer and chief information officer, said in a news release. “By making our first order of business the crafting of a State Code of Ethics for this work, we are ensuring a human-centric focus that minimizes bias and maximizes support and resources.”

A new “center of excellence” for AI, under the leadership of the Rhode Island Department of Administration and the chief data officer, will consult with the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies to create a state code of ethics for AI and predict future trends in the field, the release said. The order also directs a new “data center of excellence” to improve data operations and management and give state leaders greater opportunities to collaborate on data-analysis and data-driven decision making. 


The new chief data officer position sits inside the state’s Enterprise Technology Strategy and Services Division. The chief data officer is also tasked with leading a statewide data platform, which the state said will make it easier to access and use data across agencies.

Rhode Island follows a handful of other states that have already created task forces to understand how AI can assist or harm government operations. Oklahoma’s AI task force last month issued recommendations on how the state can implement AI to make government more efficient, which included a workforce automation strategy to reduce “redundant” government positions.

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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