The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) director sent a memo to agency chief human capitol officers (CHCO) today to help identify key skills and competencies required for positions related to AI within the Federal workforce.

Kiran Ahuja, in collaboration with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued specific guidance pursuant to the AI in Government Act of 2020. In accordance with the act, the memo reads, OPM is required to identify key skills and competencies needed for positions related to AI.

“To help the Federal government recruit and train more AI talent, today, OPM is providing for immediate use the attached general and technical AI competencies. Agencies can use the AI competencies to select, assess, and train AI talent as confirmed by a job analyses,” the July 6 memo states.

The agency provided the CHCOs with 44 general competencies and 14 technical competencies that have been identified through an environmental scan for AI work.

Some examples of the general competencies include design, resilience, supporting diversity, political savvy, and several others. Technical competencies include examples like data analysis and statistics.

The memo also includes each definition for all 58 competencies.

With the issuance of this guidance, CHCOs can now create or improve job categories specifically for AI-related positions. This will help ensure there are clear job classifications for AI roles within the Federal government.

“In support of this effort, OPM conducted an environmental scan of AI work, issued a governmentwide AI workforce survey, held focus groups with technical and human resources subject matter experts to identify Federal AI key skills and competencies governmentwide, and analyzed all results,” Ahuja wrote in the memo. “OPM’s study was also informed by data collected from academia, the private sector, Federal agencies, and other credible sources.”

OPM’s next steps for AI-related efforts will include issuing a validated AI competency model to support Federal agency talent acquisition efforts and developing AI interpretive classification policy guidance to meet the requirements of the AI in Government Act.

For now, agencies may use the provided competencies as supported by a job analysis for recruitment, selection, and hiring, the memo reads.

The AI in Government Act of 2020 created the AI Center of Excellence within the General Services Administration.

It also called on OPM to identify key skills and competencies needed for positions related to AI, establish an occupational series to include positions the primary duties of which relate to AI, establish an estimate of the number of Federal employees in AI positions by each agency, and prepare a two-year and five-year forecast of the number of Federal employees in AI positions that each agency will need to employ.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.