Ohio Department of Administrative Services releases policy governing use of AI

Kyle Thompson
Policy Associate
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March 4, 2024
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Late last year, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) passed IT-17, an administrative policy that would provide planning, implementation, privacy, and governance requirements for the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The policy broadly authorizes the use and implementation of AI while also instituting a framework that will protect Ohioans' data, with emphasis on Integrity and Quality of information gained from AI solutions. This policy will apply to all agencies that exist under the authority and jurisdiction of the Governor. Earlier research on AI at The Center for Community Solutions focused on the use of bots in Ohio’s Benefit System, efforts by the Biden Administration to establish regulations to ensure AI safety and security, and the use of AI in behavioral health. What are the implications of IT-17 on Ohio’s Health and Human Service agencies, and what has been done on a federal level that contextualizes the arena for HHS AI policy in America?

Five AI principles are central to responsible AI

Principles for responsible AI

The DAS policy focuses on five AI principles that are central to responsible AI. The principles are foundational to AI solutions that will emerge from the state. The definitions of the principles came from research published by Gartner, a technological consulting firm.

  1. Fair: Preventing the exacerbation of systemic disadvantages through AI decisions.  
  2. Accountable: Creating effective channels of accountability that establish rights for individuals.
  3. Secure and Safe: Holding regard for the people and organizations affected by AI systems while also maintaining privacy.  
  4. Explainable and Transparent: Building trust in AI by working with stakeholders to increase understanding and confidence in the technology.  
  5. Human-Centric and Socially Beneficial: Focus on human goals with the intention to be of value to the public.

Multi-agency council will oversee use of AI

The policy also introduces the development of a multi-agency AI Council which will oversee the statewide application and usage of AI solutions. The AI Council will include professionals with legal expertise, data analytics skills, technology officers (e.g., privacy, security, information technology), representatives from the governor’s office, DAS, and Agency business. The council will have a variety of activities, including:

  • Creating a statewide “sandbox environment” to investigate the application and use of Generative AI to strengthen the Ohio workforce
  • Examining the impact of AI on workforces, Ohioans, and businesses
  • Establishing legal imperatives for use of third-party AI services
  • Building and sustaining an infrastructure that would authorize and evaluate the use of AI technology
  • Creating and operating a centralized statewide repository of approved Generative AI use cases
  • Implementing a system to document procedures and protocols that will evaluate incidents or inquiries regarding anomalies in AI systems
  • Auditing current and future solutions in AI to ensure alignment with the mandates of the DAS policy  

Through these activities, the AI Council will build collaboration that harnesses multi-agency expertise and solidifies meaningful areas of activity and innovative use cases of AI technologies across state departments. In the charter for the AI Council, the scope and purpose outline two goals. The first is to ensure that the State of Ohio works to develop leadership in executive action around AI. The second is to help guide state agencies in ways to implement AI solutions with consideration to ethical, unbiased, and transparent solutions. The council also works to serve in an advisory role to the Governor’s Office, State CIO, and DAS Director.  

How has AI been used in health and human services nationally?

The Office of the Chief Artificial Officer (OCAIO) created a plan that encourages AI adoption and familiarity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Focus areas in this work also include emphasizing HHS fluency, familiarity, and comfort with potential use cases of AI technology. There are two broad approaches to achieving this aim, with smaller sub goals in both categories.  

Strategic approach

The first approach is the AI strategy that focuses on the application of AI across areas where HHS serves as leaders in innovation. Partnerships to prioritize the development of AI across shared mission areas are also of focus. HHS divisions also lead the way in finding mission-driven AI solutions within this area of work. Core HHS and division missions include funding research/grants that use AI solutions and managing the use of AI in the health industry. Partnerships with external partners in academia and the private sector to enhance programs and services are also of focus. Naming gaps in health and scientific areas is of significant consideration as well.  

Governance and execution

The second approach is governance and execution, which establishes an HHS AI Council to support governance. The AI council works to champion the AI vision for HHS and executing the enterprise strategy priorities scaling AI across the HHS. The AI Council has 4 key areas of focus, which are implemented on an enterprise level:  

  1. Strengthening an AI culture and producing an AI-ready workforce
  2. Champion health AI research and development
  3. Democratize fundamental AI resources and tools
  4. Fostering trustworthy AI development and use  

AI in chatbots increases call resolution

One example of how AI is used in HHS is voice/text chatbots. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of Security, Facility, and Logistics Operations (OSFLO) had trouble with getting prompt responses when calls were made to the help desk. To address this, a chatbot was created to automate text and voice responses. In the first model of the chatbot, 20% of incoming calls were solved with the chatbot. In the full implementation of the chatbot, 65% of calls are projected to be resolved.

What does IT-17 Mean for health and human services agencies in Ohio?

With the implementation of the DAS policy, its relevance to health agencies in Ohio can’t be understated. As agencies move forward with usage of AI, these tools and technologies should increase best use cases of the technology to innovate and improve the functions of the agencies. HHS agencies will also be extremely valuable to the work of the AI Council as it meets to develop best practices statewide in the safe, secure, and transparent use of AI, especially because these agencies are responsible for providing needed health benefits and resources to Ohioans. For now, this is a start to a statewide effort in AI policy that will bring Ohio into the 21st century. Policy: Use of Artificial Intelligence in State of Ohio Solutions

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