Unlocking Public Sector Artificial Intelligence

The challenge

Artificial intelligence holds the potential to vastly improve government operations and meet the needs of citizens in new ways, ranging from traffic management and healthcare delivery to processing tax forms. But many public institutions are lagging behind in harnessing this powerful technology.

While public sector officials are increasingly aware of the transformational impact of data for AI-powered solutions, the data is often neither accessible nor discoverable. Public sector officials may also lack the appropriate knowledge and expertise to make strategic buying decisions for AI-powered solutions.

Uncertainty about ethical considerations adds further layers of complexity. As a result, officials tend to delay buying decisions or reduce perceived risk by purchasing solutions from large and well-known suppliers.

The opportunity

The World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings governments, businesses, start-ups and civil society together to co-design two core outputs:

1.    High-level principle-based guidelines for AI procurement presenting the general considerations to be taken when procuring AI-powered solutions 

2.    Workbook for policy and procurement officials guiding them through the procurement cycle

These two outputs aim to empower government officials to more confidently make responsible purchasing decisions. They also can improve the experience for AI solutions providers with the private sector by supporting the creation of more reliable and understandable processes for sellers.


By bringing together governments, small and large companies, civil society and academia to co-design guidelines, the intended impact is the responsible deployment of AI solutions for the public benefit of citizens. Leveraging the significant purchasing power of government in the market, the private sector adoption of these standards will permeate the industry beyond the adoption by public sector organizations.

The institution of systematic and reliable guidelines will also expand opportunities for new entrants to government procurement and create a more competitive environment for the technological development of AI. Further, as industry debates its own standards on these technologies, government’s influence can help set a baseline for the harmonization of standards-setting.

Contact us at: AI@weforum.org

Licence et Republication

Le Forum économique mondial projets peut être republié conformément à nos Conditions d'utilisations.