Education Department has conditionally approved public generative AI systems

Agencies are wrestling with how to integrate the technology — while maintaining safeguards.
(Getty Images)

The Education Department has approved the use of public generative AI software, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed to FedScoop on Monday. 

The department is also developing other AI efforts, including working with the vendor community on an enterprise generative AI platform and developing comprehensive AI guidance. The investment in the technology is notable for the agency, which has, at this point, only publicly disclosed two AI use cases in its required inventory. 

The Education Department’s AI initiatives come as federal agencies begin to implement the Biden administration’s new executive order on the technology. The department does not have any formal agreement with generative AI software companies. At the end of October, Education officials sent all employees and contractors initial guidance for the technology, but the department is still crafting comprehensive guidance and policy that aligns with the executive order.

“We are not aware of any use of generative AI within the Department,” the spokesperson added. “We are in the process of establishing a mechanism for reviewing/approving requests for its future use.”


The Education Department recently named Vijay Sharma, the agency’s chief technology officer, as its chief AI officer. 

The executive order discourages federal agencies from “imposing broad general bans or blocks” on the technology. Still, departments and agencies have taken a variety of approaches. As FedScoop reported last month, the Social Security Administration issued a temporary block on the use of tools like ChatGPT on agency devices. The National Science Foundation, meanwhile, is looking to approve the use of the tool as it looks to develop a broader policy. And NASA is actively testing the technology for agency use. 

Madison Alder contributed to this article.

Rebecca Heilweil

Written by Rebecca Heilweil

Rebecca Heilweil is an investigative reporter for FedScoop. She writes about the intersection of government, tech policy, and emerging technologies. Previously she was a reporter at Vox's tech site, Recode. She’s also written for Slate, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. You can reach her at Message her if you’d like to chat on Signal.

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