The National Association of Counties (NACo) has formed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Exploratory Committee. The committee will examine emerging policies, practices, and potential applications and consequences of AI.

NACo said the committee – made up of 15 members that represent county elected and appointed officials, will “focus on the lens of county governance policies and practices, operations and constituent services, public trust, privacy and security, and workforce productivity and skills development.”

“AI can play an important role in achieving our priorities in counties nationwide,” said Travis County, Texas Judge Andy Brown, co-chair of the committee. “This exploratory committee will help us maximize opportunities and minimize risks as we leverage this technology to benefit our residents. I look forward to working with a wide range of partners to ensure that our approaches to deploying AI are responsible, well-informed, and sustainable for our workers and community members.”

According to NACo, the exploratory committee will work with cross-sector partners to examine AI in local government across a range of issue areas, with a proposed process to:

  • Assess the current state of AI technology;
  • Identify potential applications of AI and the related benefits and risks for county government operations;
  • Evaluate the risks and benefits of AI related to workforce productivity, displacement, and skills;
  • Explore the county governance landscape with ethics, public trust, privacy, and security impacts;
  • Develop a preliminary policy and practice toolkit with sample guidelines and standards for AI;
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership with different county stakeholders;
  • Advise on public policy issues that may need to be considered by NACo’s board and policy committees; and
  • Facilitate education and engagement opportunities for county officials, NACo networks and partners.

“By leveraging AI, we can make data-driven decisions to tackle local issues, from public health to environmental management,” said Palm Beach County, Fla. Mayor Gregg Weiss, co-chair of the committee. “Equally, this initiative ensures AI is used ethically, maintaining the principles of fairness, transparency and accountability. I’m confident that this forward-thinking step will foster a new era of efficiency and effectiveness in our government operations.”

The committee will initially meet at NACo’s Annual Conference in July and will then meet both in-person and virtually as their work progresses.

“AI presents tremendous opportunities and challenges. Counties will rise to the occasion of exploring this growing frontier in technology, ensuring it is used to the greatest benefit for our residents,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this committee’s efforts.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs