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DIU Issues Step-by-Step Guidelines for Defense Stakeholders to Responsibly Use AI

December 10, 2021

On November 15, 2021, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) released its Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) Guidelines (“RAI Guidelines”) to help contractors and federal officials gauge whether AI technology and programs align with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Ethical Principles for AI (as we previously reported on here). Specifically, the RAI Guidelines provide a process for all stakeholders involved in AI development (e.g., program managers, commercial vendors, and government partners) to achieve the following goals:

(1) Ensure that the DoD’s Ethical Principles for AI are integrated into all three phases of the technical lifecycle (i.e., planning, development, and deployment);
(2) Effectively examine, test, and validate that all programs and prototypes align with DoD’s Ethical Principles for AI; and
(3) Leverage a process that is reliable, replicable, and scalable across a variety of programs. 

The step-by-step process, which is presented as worksheets in the RAI Guidelines, instructs stakeholders on how to properly scope AI problem statements. They also provide detailed guidance on the considerations that stakeholders should keep in mind as they proceed through the planning, development, and deployment phases of AI systems. Those considerations include procedures for identifying who might use the technology, as well as who might be harmed by it, what those harms might be, and how they might be avoided – both before the system is built and after it is deployed.

As the RAI Guidelines note, DIU is the only DoD organization exclusively focused on accelerating the adoption of existing commercial technology across the U.S. military and partners with DoD organizations and “non-traditional” companies to field commercial solutions. According to DIU, although the majority of AI companies it works with are new to doing business with the Federal government, generally they are open to doing business with DIU because of its more agile and “commercial friendly” acquisition processes. Specifically, DIU utilizes other transaction (OT) authority under 10 U.S.C. § 2371b to direct-award prototype agreements, and successful prototypes may result in the direct award of a sole-source follow-on production OT or contract.

According to DIU, it is “actively deploying the RAI Guidelines on a range of projects that cover applications including predictive health, underwater autonomy, predictive maintenance, and supply chain analysis.” Additionally, DIU anticipates continued collaboration with government, industry, academia, and civil society to further develop the RAI Guidelines, and invites stakeholders to provide feedback, comments, or suggested updates.

Crowell & Moring is available to assist companies of all sizes and in all markets navigate the transition from commercial contracting to government contracting efficiently and effectively.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Adelicia R. Cliffe
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2816
Michael K. Atkinson
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2540
Jonathan M. Baker
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2641
Laura J. Mitchell Baker
Counsel – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2581
Michelle D. Coleman
Counsel – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.654.6708