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DHS Deputy CIO Christopher Bartz Shares Agency’s Key AI Efforts

The Department of Homeland Security aims to be the “non-DOD AI leader” within the federal government, according to the agency’s Deputy CIO Rear Adm. Christopher Bartz. 

“The Secretary really wants DHS to be the non-DOD AI leader,” said Bartz, referring to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, at the Potomac Officers Club’s 2024 Cyber Summit. “He’s really pushing for us to lead in that direction.”

In alignment with that goal, DHS is undertaking several key initiatives related to artificial intelligence. 

DHS Makes Key AI Appointments

In October 2023, DHS CIO Eric Hysen was appointed to serve as the agency’s first chief artificial intelligence officer. Hysen now holds a dual-hatted role as CIO and CAIO of DHS. 

“The CAIO will develop the department’s internal policies regarding its use of AI, set strategic priorities for AI deployments and coordinate AI related efforts In partnership with DHS components,” Bartz explained.

DHS is also bolstering its AI leadership team through the establishment of an AI governance board, which Bartz said met for the first time in May. 

New AI Roadmap & Policies

In March, DHS released its first artificial intelligence roadmap. At its core, Bartz said the AI roadmap is a “comprehensive plan meticulously designed to guide the strategic deployment of AI technologies within DHS.”

“It outlines a multifaceted approach that encompasses responsible use, nationwide safety and security, strategic partnerships, setting a new standard for federal agencies and embracing emerging technologies,” Bartz added.

Along with the new AI roadmap, DHS is also taking a comprehensive look at how its existing policies align with AI advancements and evaluating which new policies may need to be created in response to these advancements.

“We are reviewing existing policy regarding the acquisition and procurement of AI. We are evaluating our data standards to ensure they are compatible with AI, since without data, there is no AI. We are assessing our current cybersecurity policies to ensure that we protect our AI and we are adjusting the risk management framework to accommodate it. We have recently published our policy for securing generative AI,” said Bartz.

DHS AI Corps

In February, DHS announced its plan to hire 50 AI experts as part of its new “AI Corps” initiative. The AI Corps will add “much needed” expertise to DHS in the areas of AI/ML, data science, data engineering, product management, software engineering and the responsible use of these technologies, according to Bartz. 

Bartz shared that the agency began recruiting technology professionals into the AI Corps in the spring, and they have brought on seven members to date. 

“I’m really excited about this AI Corps, what they can do and how they are going to bring AI to the department. I think it is a stroke of genius to be able to hire those folks,” he said. 

Be in the room with government leaders as they share first-hand insights into their priorities, key initiatives and opportunities for industry. Your next chance to join the conversation is on June 13 at the 2024 Army Summit.

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