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March 2024

Enhancing U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure: Implications for Government Contractors in AI Implementation

In the cybersecurity landscape, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ("CISA") play pivotal roles in safeguarding critical U.S. infrastructure. As DHS explores the integration of Artificial Intelligence ("AI") to strengthen cybersecurity measures, government contractors find themselves at the forefront of this transformative endeavor. Advancements in AI implementation, however, are not without setbacks. A recent assessment by the Government Accountability Office ("GAO"), published on February 7, 2024, sheds light on crucial areas where contractors must focus their efforts to ensure successful AI implementation. 

Executive Order ("EO") No. 13960, issued in 2020, mandates DHS to maintain an inventory of its AI use cases. GAO's examination of this inventory uncovered inaccuracies, revealing misclassifications of certain cybersecurity use cases as AI-powered. These discrepancies highlight the importance for contractors to ensure accuracy in documenting AI applications within their projects, aligning with DHS's requirements.

Moreover, GAO's report scrutinized DHS's adherence to key practices outlined in its AI Accountability Framework. While DHS has made progress in its use of AI, gaps remain, particularly in fully implementing key GAO AI practices such as documenting data sources and ensuring data reliability. For government contractors, this underscores the need for meticulous attention to detail throughout the AI development process, from data collection to model deployment.

For contractors engaged in cybersecurity projects, GAO's report serves as a roadmap for navigating the intricacies of AI implementation. By aligning with GAO's recommendations, contractors can bolster DHS's cybersecurity capabilities and enhance the protection of vital infrastructure. Additionally, compliance with these recommendations can strengthen contractors' competitive edge in securing future government contracts.

DHS's concurrence with GAO's recommendations signals a commitment to refining its AI initiatives. However, the onus falls on government contractors to actively engage with these guidelines and contribute to the advancement of cybersecurity practices. Collaboration between contractors and government agencies will be essential in overcoming challenges and maximizing the potential of AI to safeguard our nation's security.

As government contractors continue to play a pivotal role in enhancing cybersecurity through AI integration, their dedication to implementing best practices will be paramount in fortifying our nation's defenses against evolving cyber threats. Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani's Government Contracts practice group provides legal guidance to assist government contractors in navigating the complex regulatory landscape surrounding AI implementation, ensuring compliance and maximizing the efficacy of cybersecurity efforts. If you have any questions about this legal update or any other legal developments, please contact the authors or GRSM's Government Contracts team for more information. 

To explore the full GAO report, please click here.

Artificial Intelligence

Patrick K. Burns
Meredith L. Thielbahr

Artificial Intelligence
Cyber, Privacy & Data Security
Government Contracts