How are emerging technologies going to transform the business of government?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in government involves the design, building, use, and evaluation of cognitive computing and machine learning to improve the management of public agencies. To enable successful use of AI in government, leaders must design and implement governance and policy that promotes a skilled workforce that collaborates with academia and the private sector, risk management frameworks, secure systems, and modern technologies.

I have studied emerging technologies in the public sector for the last six years. These projects have included how mega-scale IT projects are managed, crowdsourcing platforms for sourcing innovation, big data and analytics, and most recently the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.

Delivering Artificial Intelligence in Government

While public agencies are in their early days of experimenting with AI, these efforts are bound to intensify. To help government innovators progress in this area, my report outlines a maturity model for agencies to develop the capacity and capabilities to fully leverage AI’s potential. The report discusses the following challenges facing the public sector in implementing AI, with opportunities to address each challenge as summarized in the chart on the following page. It highlights practical steps that government leaders can take to leverage AI in ways that improves mission support and mission performance, addressing the subject in three sections:

  • Planning, Developing, and Deploying AI
  • Challenges and Opportunities in Delivering AI systems
  • A Maturity Model for Assessing Public Sector Progress

The business of government, broadly defined, involves the

  1. the management of public agencies,
  2. the design, deployment, implementation, and evaluation of public policies, and
  3. the governance of public goods.

Autonomous Systems (AI) in the Public Sector

The IBM Center for the Business of Government supplied funding to conduct one of the first analysis of US public agencies across the federal, state, and local levels were using artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. This work was a follow-up to my previous project that looked at big data and analytics in the public sector.

Global recognition

The report led to me making numerous presentations to public agencies across the globe. One of the most important being at an invite-only strategic meeting organized by the Salzburg Global Forum in May.

During this meeting, I presented a case study based on my findings from the research project. The case study was analyzed by the attendees at the meeting to help them think through the future scenarios on how autonomous technologies will impact the nature of our societies. The case study was well-received and led to several follow-up conversations.

Presentation to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

When I arrived in Australia, I was humbled to be hosted by Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet to present my thinking on this work. I met Dr. Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Dept. in Austria at the Salzburg Global Forum.

Challenges and opportunities for Deploying AI in the Public Sector

I am continuing to build on this work with other governments. In addition, I plan to use the findings from this work to inform my current research and consulting engagements on how senior executives across public, private, and nonprofit sectors should leverage machine learning and autonomous systems to redesign organizations, the nature of work, and innovation ecosystems.

About the author

Kevin C. Desouza is a Professor of Business, Technology, and Strategy in the School of Management at the QUT Business School. He is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the China Institute for Urban Governance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

He has held tenured faculty appointments at the University of Washington, Virginia Tech, and Arizona State University (ASU). In addition, he has held visiting appointments at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Università Bocconi, University of the Witwatersrand, and the University of Ljubljana.

Kevin teaches into the QUT MBA’s strategy and technology management units.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *