November 09,2023

Wyden, Crapo Press Federal Agencies on Use of Artificial Intelligence

Finance Committee leaders press CBP, DHS and HHS for information to ensure use of AI is effective and fair

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) requested information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on how the agencies are employing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and what steps they are taking to ensure the technology is used appropriately.

As is frequently the case with new technology, AI provides us with exciting opportunities to better serve the American people, but we’re only beginning to see the consequences of leaving these systems unchecked,” Wyden said. “The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the systems it is using to make decisions that impact Americans’ daily lives are doing so accurately and without harmful bias.”

As technological innovations such as AI are used more frequently by government agencies, it is important for us to gain a better understanding of AI applications within the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction,” said Crapo.

In their letter to CBP, sent this week, Wyden and Crapo noted the powerful potential of this technology to speed legitimate trade and focus enforcement resources on catching trade cheats. However, as part of their oversight responsibilities, they sought additional information about how exactly CBP is using this technology to carry out activities such as cargo screenings at borders, screening of small packages at postal facilities, compliance and more. 

In their letter to HHS, sent in October, Wyden and Crapo pressed for information on how the agency is using AI to filter through and synthesize vast amounts of data to support program management, administration and care. 

Both letters also press for details on what – if any – guardrails have been put in place to help identify and correct any algorithmic bias found in the technology these federal agencies are using.

Wyden has been vocal about the need to protect Americans against algorithmic bias within flawed AI technology as it becomes increasingly relied upon and disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Earlier this year, Wyden sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel to request information from the agency on how it uses AI ahead of the upcoming filing season as part of his ongoing oversight efforts as Finance Chair.

The text of the letter to CBP and DHS can be found here.

The text of the letter to HHS can be found here.