AI Decision Making to Allocate Government Funds
Authors: Linda Bower
Abstract: This paper discusses the use of Artificial Intelligence in government decision making with a case study on the use of AI to distribute government grant funds.An important element in government administration is decision making. Currently, only a minority of government decision makers use a formal approach; but politics, intuition and coincidence are increasingly being replaced by formal, structured decision making. It has been found that a structured, formal decision-making process results in better outcomes. Further, the continued development of e-Government is leading to the use of autonomous decision making based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The continued development of information and communications technologies (ICT) and e-Government solutions is expected to lead to the use of autonomous decision making, based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). In many areas, AI is superior to humans in decision making. Computer reasoning based on logic and deduction, optimization and decision making enables autonomous systems and decision support aids. Although ICT offers substantial benefits for government operations, there is a high failure rate when governments attempt to adopt ICT for government purposes. Structured participatory processes are available, but government entities seldom use them in decision making. Thus, this aspect needs to be considered when developing autonomous decision making systems. A formal process is even more important when designing a system to make decisions autonomously.Case Study: DOJ OJPThe Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. OJP does not carry out law enforcement or justice activities itself. Rather, the office offers state-of-the-art knowledge and practices to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems. OJP focuses on crime prevention through research and development assistance to state, local, and tribal criminal justice agencies. Its activities cover law enforcement, corrections, and juvenile justice through grants and assistance to crime victims. OJP works in partnership with the justice community to identify the most pressing crime-related challenges confronting the justice system, and providing information, training, coordination, and innovative strategies and approaches to address these challenges. It focuses on a science-based, “smart-on-crime” approach. An example is seen in public safety grants at the OJP. For many years, during the summer grant “season,” about $2 billion would be distributed to some 2,000 grantees. In the past, there was no standard approach for determining who received grants. The individual grant managers used their own judgment, basing their decisions to a great extent on their knowledge of the applicants.OJP’s goal is to administer a grant awards process in a fair, accessible, and transparent fashion and to manage the grants system in a manner that avoids waste, fraud, and abuse.Then, about 2011, OJP began introducing objective measures into the grant review process and automated the process. The new system resulted in increased accuracy and consistency of decisions, as well as a more efficient review process. The time for a grant manager to capture grantee data in the database was reduced from 30 minutes to almost zero, and grant applications could be reviewed quarterly instead of annually. OJP now allocates its resources based on hard data rather than subjective opinion.
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Decision Making, Government Funds
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