Can AI tools replace feds?

Derek B. Johnson at FCW: “The Heritage Foundation…is calling for increased reliance on automation and the potential creation of a “contractor cloud” offering streamlined access to private sector labor as part of its broader strategy for reorganizing the federal government.

Seeking to take advantage of a united Republican government and a president who has vowed to reform the civil service, the foundation drafted a pair of reports this year attempting to identify strategies for consolidating, merging or eliminating various federal agencies, programs and functions. Among those strategies is a proposal for the Office of Management and Budget to issue a report “examining existing government tasks performed by generously-paid government employees that could be automated.”

Citing research on the potential impacts of automation on the United Kingdom’s civil service, the foundation’s authors estimated that similar efforts across the U.S. government could yield $23.9 billion in reduced personnel costs and a reduction in the size of the federal workforce by 288,000….

The Heritage report also called on the federal government to consider a “contracting cloud.” The idea would essentially be for a government version of TaskRabbit, where agencies could select from a pool of pre-approved individual contractors from the private sector who could be brought in for specialized or seasonal work without going through established contracts. Greszler said the idea came from speaking with subcontractors who complained about having to kick over a certain percentage of their payments to prime contractors even as they did all the work.

Right now the foundation is only calling for the government to examine the potential of the issue and how it would interact with existing or similar vehicles for contracting services like the GSA schedule. Greszler emphasized that any pool of workers would need to be properly vetted to ensure they met federal standards and practices.

“There has to be guidelines or some type of checks, so you’re not having people come off the street and getting access to secure government data,” she said….(More)