NASCIO, Center for Digital Government and IBM Release Report on AI Adoption by State Governments

Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, October 26, 2021 – The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the Center for Digital Government (CDG) and IBM today released a report entitled, AI Meets the Moment: How a pandemic has shaped AI adoption in state government and what it means for the future. The report explores the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) by states during the COVID-19 pandemic and includes insights from a survey and in-depth interviews with multiple state chief information officers (CIOs) and agency leaders.

Broad gains in AI adoption by state governments were revealed since this report was first done by the same group in 2019 – especially in chatbots and digital assistants – in combination with robotic process automation (RPA). Overall, the survey and interviews showed growing optimism on the potential of AI, propelled in part by its role in helping to address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic including capacity increases and business process changes in state systems that serve the public. For example, the survey found that 60% of respondents started to use digital assistants, such as chatbots, to help more effectively deliver critical information to large numbers of constituents via channels like call centers. While there was some suggestion that an underappreciation for the level of skill and dedication required to mine the possibilities of AI still exist, success with AI-enabled applications is starting to melt resistance in state agencies nationwide.

Michael Leahy, NASCIO President and Secretary of Information Technology for the State of Maryland, commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic presented the right business case for many state CIOs to adopt AI and it has been beneficial to the expedited delivery of services to citizens.”

Some of the key findings from the CDG / IBM / NASCIO study include:

  • AI is driving positive results in several areas, for example improved service delivery (71%).
  • Optimism on AI’s potential to transform organizations runs high among the state-level technology leaders surveyed with just over half (56%) believing that transformation can happen in one to three years, and just under a quarter (23%) believing it can happen right away.

“This year’s report shows the proven value of AI to state leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a powerful indicator AI acceptance is rapidly maturing,” said Steve LaFleche, General Manager for IBM’s U.S. Public and Federal Market. “We look forward to collaborating with government leaders as they continue to expand the benefits of AI for their constituents – I am optimistic and excited for the future.”

“Last year, we observed how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of AI. Our 2021 report findings show that momentum continues to build, and AI is delivering real, tangible outcomes,” said Joe Morris, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer for CDG.

To read the publication, visit NASCIO’s Resource Center.

NASCIO Contact

Meredith Ward
Director of Policy and Research
National Association of State Chief Information Officers
[email protected]