OPM issues initial list of key skills for AI-related government jobs 

The government personnel agency sets out a list of 44 general competencies and 14 technical competencies that future government employees working with AI will need.
The Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building that houses the Office of Personnel Management headquarters is shown June 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Office of Personnel Management has published an initial list of key skills and competencies the agency deems necessary for government employees carrying out artificial intelligence-related government jobs.

In a memo to chief human capital officers across federal agencies, which was sent on Thursday, OPM set out a list of 44 general competencies and 14 technical competencies that according to the agency future government employees working with AI will be required to fulfill.

The range of general competencies include: accountability, attention to detail, integrity, mathematical reasoning and political savvy. Technical competencies set out by the agency include: application development, data extraction and transformation, software engineering and values-driven design.

OPM was mandated to carry out a survey of key skills required for AI-related government jobs by the AI in Government Act of 2020, which was enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. 


That legislation also required OPM to establish an occupational series for positions relating to the technology, to establish an estimate of the number of federal employees in positions related to AI by each agency, and to prepare forecasts for how many AI specialists each government department will need to employ.

In the Thursday memo, OPM Administrator Kiran Ahuja wrote: “To help the Federal government recruit and train more AI talent, today, OPM is providing for immediate use the attached general and technical AI competencies. Agencies can use the AI competencies to select, assess, and train AI talent as confirmed by a job analyses.”

She added: “Agencies are responsible for conducting job analyses for work within their agency. Similarly, agencies must determine the applicability of these competencies to positions within their agency.”

According to OPM, the agency collected the list of competencies by conducting an “environmental scan” of AI work, issuing a governmentwide AI workforce survey, holding focus groups and consulting experts.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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