February 19, 2019
Over Half of Government Workforce Welcome Intelligent Technologies, but want more Technical Support and User Training, According to a Study by Government Business Council and Accenture
WASHINGTON; Feb.19, 2019 – U.S. government workers are receptive to learning and using new intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and welcome opportunities to augment their skill sets according to a study released today by Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive Media Group, and underwritten by Accenture Federal Services (AFS). However, the research also found that workers believe that agencies need to better communicate how such technologies will affect them and additionally equip them with resources to navigate the transition.
Based on a survey of nearly 500 U.S. federal employees representing more than 30 civilian and defense agencies, the study explores perceptions of intelligent technologies like AI and their potential impact on the federal workforce.
“The Federal workforce knows the potential benefits of AI and that intelligent technologies are coming — but what workers don’t yet know is how it will affect and amplify their work,” said Britaini Carroll, a human capital workforce lead at Accenture Federal Services. “Because employees play a key role in training, sustaining and interacting with intelligent technologies, they should be engaged in every step of the process and encouraged to continuously learn. We look forward to co-creating solutions with our government clients to help them transform their learning journeys and effectively incorporate AI in their workforce transformation plans.”
Among the study’s key findings:
- Workers recognize that AI will be important — but their agencies haven’t explained how.
Half (51 percent) of respondents expect the number of roles requiring collaboration with intelligent technologies to increase slightly or significantly in the next three years. Further, three-quarters (74 percent) acknowledge that in the next three to five years, it will be somewhat, very or extremely important for them to develop skills to work with AI. Yet only 26 percent said their agency has communicated the potential impact of AI either adequately, well or very well.
- Workers value smart tech’s potential to reduce repetitive tasks and boost productivity. Workers identified several compelling potential benefits of intelligent technologies, including reduced repetitive tasks and administrative burdens (cited by 59 percent), improved productivity (53 percent) and reduced errors (46 percent). Interestingly, respondents were mixed on whether new technologies are always acquired for the benefit of employees. While half (50 percent) believe that their agency is committed to ensuring employee skills benefit from new technologies, 29 percent believe that such tools are introduced without an appraisal of the employees’ current responsibilities.
- Workers feel confident in their ability to adapt but worry about lack of training.
When thinking about how well they will “fit” in the government of the future, half (49 percent) of respondents said they are confident or very confident that their technical skills and abilities make them a valuable worker, and three-quarters (76 percent) indicated that adaptability will be an essential skill to have in a government of the future. However, 61 percent said they are worried about lack of technical support and user training. Further, when respondents were asked what would motivate them to develop new skills in a future workforce, “being provided funding to cover training costs” was cited most often, by 55 percent of respondents.
“AI is one of the most engaging topics we are seeing unfold in the federal government right now,” said Daniel Thomas, research manager for GBC and author of the study. “These findings show that there is a significant appetite for continued education around the opportunities that intelligent technologies like AI present to the federal employee.”
“Agencies should think big but start small in building a strategic, sustainable and responsible enterprise AI program," said Dominic Delmolino, Accenture Federal Services chief technology officer. “Furthermore, AI adoption should be pursued in the context of shifting employees from low-value to high- value work. By using a design-led approach when deploying new solutions, we ensure that employees are leading the identification of where AI tasks can augment their work, reinforce trust in the solution, build new relationships, and ultimately, encourage the adoption of AI technologies that will help meet rising demands.”
For the full results of the study, visit: Federal workers ready to thrive in the age of AI
About the Research
To identify federal workers’ perceptions of intelligent technologies like AI and the potential impact of those technologies on the federal workforce, GBC surveyed 496 U.S. federal employees representing more than 30 civilian and defense agencies. Slightly more than half (52 percent) of respondents self-identified as GS/GM-13 rank or higher. The survey was fielded to Government Executive Media Group’s database of digital subscribers in May 2018.
About Government Business Council:
As Government Executive Media Group’s research division, Government Business Council (GBC) is dedicated to advancing the business of government through analysis, insight, and analytical independence. An extension of Government Executive’s 40 years of exemplary editorial standards and commitment to the highest ethical values, GBC studies influential decision makers from across government to produce intelligence-based research and analysis.
About Accenture Federal Services
Accenture Federal Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Accenture LLP, is a U.S. company with offices in Arlington, Virginia. Accenture’s federal business has served every cabinet-level department and 30 of the largest federal organizations. Accenture Federal Services transforms bold ideas into breakthrough outcomes for clients at defense, intelligence, public safety, civilian and military health organizations. Learn more at www.accenturefederal.com.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 469,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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