Government continues to boost AI with new TMF program

The Technology Modernization Fund is looking to accelerate AI goals outlined in President Joe Biden’s executive order on the technology.
Clare Martorana delivers remarks at the 2023 FedScoop 50 awards reception. (FedScoop)

The Technology Modernization Fund said Thursday that it would begin accepting applications from federal agencies with ideas for AI projects. The idea is to accelerate the government’s deployment of the technology: The investment program is only considering AI use cases that would take no more than a year-and-a-half to implement and cost up to $6 million to assemble.

The project follows the Biden administration’s October executive order on artificial intelligence, which ordered the TMF — which is run by a board and falls under the General Services Administration —  to start prioritizing AI projects within 30 days.

In the beginning of January, a spokesperson for GSA told FedScoop that it was exploring plans for guidance on government AI proposals and that “AI proposals would require senior executive support and must include user testing, a risk mitigation plan, and clear metrics to evaluate success.” In an update released by the Biden administration at the end of last month, the White House said that the TMF had evaluated mechanisms for prioritizing “agencies’ adoption of AI.” 

In a statement, federal Chief Information Officer and TMF Board Chair Clare Martorana said that ​​“as one of the world’s largest enterprises, the federal government has an obligation to harness the power of AI for good while protecting people from its risks. Use of the TMF has the potential to accelerate AI usage in government and unlock the innovation that we know we are capable of delivering for the public.”


Martorana pointed to the hundreds of AI use cases disclosed by the U.S. government, “from its use in anticipating and mitigating prescription drug shortages and supply chain issues to assisting cyber forensic specialists in detecting anomalies and potential threats in federal civilian networks.” A December report from the Government Accountability Office found that the number of indexed agency AI use cases for fiscal year 2022 was more than 1,200. 

The emerging TMF initiative serves as a reminder that the government doesn’t just have its eye on large, expensive AI systems, but on more modest versions of the technology that are easier to implement. The program also reflects a strong focus on speed. Agencies with proposals in mind are supposed to reach out to the TMF program management office. 

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