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AI Today Podcast #116: AI and Procurement in the Federal Government: Keith Nakasone, GSA


The I. Today podcast produced by cowed militia cuts through the hype and noise to identify. What is really happening now? In the world of artificial intelligence and learn about emerging trends technologies and use cases from Cotton Olympic analysts and guests experts. Here on a today we talk a lot about the amazing ways that is changing the business world but this technology is also being used by social enterprises to help those in need the sponsor for today's podcast is the tubman project in a research. Startup building machine learning technology for public defenders every day people in the United States are faced with inadequate legal representation. Public defenders are buried in an avalanche of information as a result of their massive caseloads leaving leaving their clients. Nearly undefended with the projects help we can create a legal system has fair representation for everyone rich or poor with their goal to free one thousand more to learn more check out the tubman project online at Tottenham Project DOT com. Hello and welcome to the AI today. PODCAST I'm your host Kathleen Mulch and I'm your host Ronald Schmeltzer. So today we have a special guest. Keith Sony who is the Deputy Assistant Commissioner acquisition at the Office of Information Technology Category Category for the Federal Acquisition Service at the US General Services Administration that GSA. Hello key thank you so much for joining us on the air today. podcast thank you for having me. Welcome welcome Keith. And thanks for joining us. We'd like to start by having you introduce yourself to our listeners and tell them a little bit about your background and your current role at GSI. Sure so I've been in be the federal government for over thirty years started in the feud of procurement as specializing in information technology and telecommunications and so over my career I've been with the Department of Defense as well as with the Federal Communications Commission and now here at GSA for the past two and a half years within the IT. Category as the Deputy Commissioner overseeing pretty much GSA schedules it seventy program as well as the IT EG wax great. So maybe I think many of our listeners. Some of those acronyms may not be so familiar of course our listeners. Who are familiar with that? Obviously the government procures a lot of stuff in buys a lot of services and products and technologies of all sorts. Maybe before sort of getting into a little bit. How is being used? I mean we can sort of give an overview for the audience is that which is an international audience and from across a wide range of industries. Maybe a little bit more information just in general about how the government procures things and sort of maybe some insights into did they amount and complexity of all that procurement. Obviously get into how. Ai Is helping with all that sure within my role under the General Services Administration Russian under the IT category might focus is. We provide the procurement vehicles or the procurement solutions for our customers. Ars and our customers could be the federal state local tribal realization that by information technology products services and solutions through either our schedules scheduled program or a government wide acquisition contract and so through the process. What we do is we basically have a lot of discussions with our customer agencies that leverage our contract solutions that we put in place and so I like to call ourselves a partner between the agencies and the original equipment manufacturers as well as the value add resellers to hell to include this system integrators so that we would be able to deliver state of the our solution end within the IT infrastructure modernizing the federal state local tribal organization and so really our focuses? The acquisition fission professional experience that we bring to the table with the ultra being on. It solution within our portfolio. And so right now now. Currently the General Services Administration through our it category roughly about twenty four billion dollars annually comes through our acquisition position vehicles and a portion of that is of course the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence robotic process automation and other five G. Technologies knowledge that are coming online shortly. But that's what we do. We enable the customers to help modernize the IT infrastructure. Yeah those are some really impressive numbers that you throw out there and I know that the GSA is incorporating artificial intelligence. You said you work. With a lot of emerging technologies in is one of them specifically to help with government procurement Kerman and around it services and software. So can you share with us. How the GSA is looking at applying ai and for our listeners that may not be familiar with the acquisition process? I know you talked about it a little bit. Could you give them a quick. Overview of how government procurement works in the process. Is that you're specifically looking to improve with Ai. Right so let me I go back to the it category and let me kind of explain what we do. So in other speaking engagements I spoke about the adopt by build mentality. And what I mean by adopt. I is steady commercial. Industry has already developed illusions. That for example. I'M GONNA GONNA use our contact center especially item number under our schedules program. If they're solutions already available out there on the commercial sector that we can just adopt adopt through our government determined echoes meaning that we have product skewed and catalog numbers that can actually deliver the capability that the agencies agencies are looking for we would inject those products Cuban catalogue numbers directly on the Master contracts that me administer through GSA. So I and we look at you know when we talk about market capability. That's exactly what we're doing with artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies that. We're just injecting it so that we can do rapid acquisition solution score the customers so if people are not familiar with the acquisition process I we get requirement airman and from a customer and usually the requirements. Start with either. They're trying to solve a problem. They're trying to meet emission requirement. Or they have some kind of set of challenges they would like to leverage with emerging technologies such as robotic process automation or artificial intelligence etc.. So what we do is we take their set of challenges or retake their objectives and goals or their challenges that we try to help navigate through that process thing true basically understanding what the requirement and their need is we will provide those procurements solution and take matching the challenges or objectives to a set of vendor capabilities. If you will think that it can be delivered. WHO So? We searched your our master contract and we see where we can potentially engage the agencies as well L. as customers to meet the requirements. And so it's really taking an initial set of requirements and actually matching it up to enter capability and then eventually getting over to the competitive process of actually providing a contract vehicle and then awarding it through either either embassador scheduled program and or our. It government wide acquisition contracts. Great you know. I think that's really impressive because I know that even though this United United States federal government is very large entity multiple entities. You know people who are at much smaller companies and organizations are listening to this a lot of the same problems. You're solving a lot of the same prompts. Most organizations are trying to solve especially right may handling documents and process flow and natural language and all that sort of stuff. So I think that's really interesting and for those of our listeners. Here you should definitely go to a today dot live and you can sign up for a little more of our bonus episodes and similar additional questions that we are asking. Our guests will tell you a little bit more about that later but for those folks listening who may not be aware. Now what are you seeing some of the more interesting use cases with regards to the government's adoption of a sure because by men the acquisition procurement. Swim Lane. If you will we see a lot of activities going on from a business sector perspective select focus on artificial intelligence. There's a lot of discussions going on within the working groups of Huddle we inject artificial intelligence that into the infrastructure infrastructure. If you will and so we're trying to understand is from a methodology perspective. We're saying okay from a model. What should we do and how we should inject it? So we're you're saying the best way to approach. It is looking at it from a narrow approach right so for example if I was to take the acquisition procurement process jeff and I was able to break it down into micro services and taking a well defined process with all the different data he said and being able to organize it in a way where I can now definitely put it in and leveraging and taking away these low level cap that we normally do that are pretty much repetitive and well-defined with the right data that we would be able to leverage artificial intelligence to help us do the low level tasks and if we look at the business sector we see happening in the financial side and see them happening in term inside. We see some activities in the logistic mystified as well as we go through this process. It's really taking it. In the applying that agile methodology taking that narrow approach really really defining looking at those areas where you have the ability to implement and leverage emerging technology such as robotic cross pollination and then eventually over to artificial intelligence and I can tell you that through the process. The reason why you want to go through a agile methodology is because you will discover things over time and that you'd be able to navigate through the process as you build out and look at your processes look at the data says the menu. Then you eventually can either have a better governance framework in play to leverage the emerging technologies but also be able to implement a new way Of Looking at at leveraging your existing systems along with the emerging technologies that can help you reduce the low level activities and focused more on the high value activities or your organization and the workforce. Yeah that's a great point. You know agile is like you know the best practices that everybody should follow now l. but for a products we've found that Adra only takes it so far it's not specifically for data management projects and. That's why we always talk about the CPI may I- methodology because that combines the best of agile and Christie 'em to bring together a real focus project management tool and for our listeners. We do have an upcoming upcoming training. October twenty thirtieth in the DC region. If you'd like to learn more about that but keeps you know it's really important. We talked about bringing a into these various agencies. And as you want to do that the need to upskill and reskill. The workforce is something that agencies need to constantly be taking into consideration. So what insights do you have have for agencies looking to deepen their machine learning expertise and re-skilling upscale their current workforce Brady and this is where we talk about the digital workforce in education when you upskill and reskill. It's really I you have to go through the process of the theft thing workforce and when you assess the workforce like for example I will use the acquisition workforce community. We look at the do their jobs very very well. We know how to execute procurements. They've been well trained. We have a level three recertification program to walk them through all the different milestones from a to be coming from a contract specialists to a contracting officer and learning how to acquire it she and telecom types of solutions and as we go through this process or we implement new emerging technologies within the infrastructure. It's adopting that whole change inch management plan as well as executing assessing than the actually going through your human capital process to see what new classes or what courses do I have to offer to educate the workforce build that awareness and then also put that into practice so as we go through this process. That's what we're seeing is we tennis. Implementing emerging technologies. But we also have to train the workforce to understand how to use it and how it can better enhance into capabilities within any of the business lines right so we look at the financials or procurement or logistics etc.. There's a lot of opportunity out there where we can and leverage but it starts with the workforce and having a really good governance framework over. How you train your workforce in how you continuously monitoring evaluate? Oh you wait and continuously through that process of educating the workforce so that we will never ever stop the training because what we learned in technology and technology changes so quickly and the emerging technologies are coming quicker every day that we continuously have to have the model ingrained in the Human German capital process and the training is also as well as putting it in practices. We're going to be key for us to advance our workforce in the exception of leveraging leveraging emerging technologies. Yeah that's a good point that you bring up and I think that another thing that people are starting to realize is how do you talk to your workforce. Yes you need to upskill and reskill them but how do you talk to them to work. Side by side with these technologies I know that a lot of different agencies are implementing our PA.. But and how do you talk to people to say. This is not replacing your job. It's just taking away some of the routine mundane boring repetitive tasks that you can and do a much better job doing something else. So it's not taking away your drop. It's just taking away that task that you didn't like doing anyway right. And this is the beauty about using the agile methodology. This is where you're sitting side by side and you're actually implementing things as you go through that agile process they're still doing the punching. They're just not doing all the the Laura level data entry type of things but they're still functioning as a contracting officer within the acquisition community. And so when we look at this it's when you put converging technologies and you're building it and developing it over time. This is where that whole agile process really paid off because from a Change Management Richman perspective. They are actually engaging as you're developing and working through that process so when you get into full scale production you know if you have a change management plan in place along with your emerging technologies and injecting it within your existing framework and Building Towards D. Two D. Framework the tenth and Bienne will be a lot better because they're part of the solutions that you're trying to build into the to be state of your it systems and infrastructure. Sure yeah that definitely makes sense and we love the focus. We left that you're talking about methodology because we spend so much of our time talking methodology. The technology is great. I mean they add. Technology has evolved altered quite a bit. But you know you just can't through technology at a problem and expected to solve it especially since so much of the success of Ai depends on data and the quality of that data and structuring and right and modeling right and a lot of that data is very much contained within the way the organization shares data magic data cleans it preps it or maybe doesn't do any of those those things Brian. It doesn't really matter how good the technology as we'll go very far with bad data so we spend a lot of our time talking about that. Kathleen mentioned we do Liu a lot of training on that you know if you go to COG MELINDA DOT com slash training could see some of that and also we have a Webinar that we do regularly so for our listeners. If you sign up to register for the seven patterns of Ai Webinar based based on a very popular research. We've done seven different ways. That people are applying at two different problems. Go ahead and do that. You can do that in a today. That live so you've really discussed quite a bit about where the government is going right now with the eye and its applications adoption so maybe a little bit more broadly to put on the crystal ball here and the wizards had and kind of look a little bit more into into the future. And so you know what do you see. What do you believe is the future of ai in general and its application to corporations governments and beyond so I think as you know we all are we say technology never ends right never stopped so the good thing about the government's adopting artificial intelligence that we will be able to go from the research and development L. A. Man and true proof of concepts pilots and eventually to production and scale as we walk through that process? We're learning a lot of things about artificial intelligence agent than if I if you are following through some of the things that we're doing within the US federal government will posting a lot of data out there on Ai Dot Gov and so oh you know if we're learning a lot from all the different agencies because you know we have different mission focuses and so you know from healthcare to financial to determine or acquisition positions etc so when we look at the holistic view of how emerging technologies can assist the federal government in moving technology along long but also having the workforce adopted and actually use. It is GonNa be a wonderful thing in the future and I believe that there is a lot of opportunity out there. Her for us to leverage these emerging technologies to enhance our skill sets and to focus on really the complex thing that we really need to tackle within the federal government. And so there's a lot of things that we are working on such a looking at efficiencies and effectiveness if you're out on the GOP DOT GOV website. You'll see see that we're adopting this new federal marketplace and we're no kidding paying some attention to the policies the processes and the technologies as well as the human capital workforce workforce transformation so I can see from a digital workforce transformation perspective we are definitely focusing our energies trying to bring private and public engagements together to have more of this collaborative backwards so that we can adopt and do more of this engagements so that we can enhance enhance the being to production if you will within leveraging emerging technologies sounds great. Yeah and I think you really explained it really well. They're so keith. Really wanted to thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. We really appreciate your participation sharing insights. I think that our audience would be completely enthralled to listen to to hear we heard all sorts of great things. We're getting great use cases and I'm sure people will be listening to everything you're saying and as mentioned earlier on the speaking circuit too so people probably will see you out there so really appreciate you joining us and for those who are listeners. If you enjoy this podcast definitely give us a rating. I know that a lot of people are we have a lot of listeners. Here and we appreciate you rating us an itunes and Google play and stitcher and other places give us a five star rating. So that people can learn from these podcasts with these excellent guests like Keith so once again thank you so much for joining us on this podcast and participating bidding. Thank you for having me. Thanks so much for joining us. Today and listener says always will post any articles and concepts discussed in the show notes and Lake Round. Said please rate this podcast. I listen to bonus content go to today dot live and sign up for our podcast newsletter. We'll be regularly sharing bonus episodes content. And you'll be the first to hear about Oliver however upcoming trainings. Webinars and workshops so thanks so much for listening and we'll catch the next podcast and that's a wrap for today to download this episode. You'd find additional episodes and transcripts subscribe to our newsletter and more. Please visit our website at Cognreznick DOT com. Join the discussion inbetween. PODCASTS hot casts on the Today facebook group and make sure to join the cognitive facebook page for updates on this and future podcasts. Also subscribe to our podcast in itunes and Google play and elsewhere to get notified if future episodes. Want to support this podcast. And get your message out to our listeners. 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