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GenAI Can Supercharge Economic Recovery

The Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) is a new, collaborative initiative designed to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in communities and regions throughout the U.S. by connecting organizations with the talent and capacity needed to advance new ways of doing economic development. However, it's unknown if new technology will be a key component.

For example, less than 25 percent of government organizations will have Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) enabled citizen-facing services by 2027, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner.

Furthermore, fear of public failure and a lack of community trust in government use of the technology will slow adoption for external use by a nation's citizens.

Government GenAI Market Development

Like many organizations over the past 15 months, federal and regional governments have been exploring the opportunities and risks associated with the emergence of GenAI tools.

Gartner’s annual global survey of over 2,400 CIOs and technology executives found that 25 percent of governments have deployed, or plan to deploy GenAI in the next 12 months.

A further 25 percent of those leaders plan to deploy in the next 24 months. The early focus has been on establishing an initial governance framework to support experimentation and narrow adoption.

"While governments have been benefiting from the use of more mature AI technologies for years, risk and uncertainty are slowing GenAI’s adoption at scale, especially the lack of traditional controls to mitigate drift and hallucinations," said Dean Lacheca, VP analyst at Gartner.

In addition, a lack of empathy in service delivery and a failure to meet community expectations will undermine public acceptance of GenAI’s use in citizen-facing services.

To address this, Gartner recommends governments continue to actively deploy GenAI solutions that will improve internal aspects of citizen services. 

"GenAI adoption by government organizations should move at a pace that is aligned to their risk appetite, to ensure that early missteps in the use of AI don’t undermine community acceptance of the technology in government service delivery," said Lacheca.

This will mean that back-office opportunities will progress more rapidly than the use of GenAI technology to serve citizens directly.

According to the Gartner assessment, government organizations can accelerate GenAI adoption by focusing more on use cases that predominantly impact internal resources, avoiding perceived risks associated with citizen-facing services, and building knowledge and skills associated with the technology.

They should also build trust and mitigate associated risks by establishing transparent AI governance and assurance frameworks for both internally developed and procured AI capabilities. 

"These frameworks need to specifically address risks associated with citizen-facing service delivery use cases, such as inaccurate or misleading results, data privacy, and secure conversations," said Lacheca.

This can be done by ensuring governance processes specifically address each risk both before and after initial implementation.

Outlook for GenAI Applications in Government

In addition, government organizations should implement an empathy-focused practice of human-centered design when designing the use of citizen or workforce-facing GenAI solutions. 

Gartner analysts believe that this ensures the solutions remain in line with community expectations when it comes to determining how and when they should be used from a citizen-facing perspective.

That said, I believe while the U.S. government is focused on mobilizing talent for economic development, GenAI presents a powerful enablement tool.  Its potential to streamline government services and empower communities could accelerate economic growth.

Widespread GenAI adoption can boost efficiency, innovation and citizen engagement in the recovery process, but its full potential hinges on increased investment and integration efforts.

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