RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture Federal Services worked with Government Business Council to survey federal employees about AI.
  • This report shares workforce views on intelligent technologies and their own readiness to work with them.
  • The report also identifies clear steps to engage the workforce and increase the likelihood of success with AI and other intelligent technologies.


While there is little dispute about the need or urgency to transform the federal workforce, there remains significant uncertainty about how to make it happen. That’s especially true when it comes to integrating intelligent technologies and empowering the workforce to collaborate effectively with artificial intelligence (AI).

The workforce weighs in

Working with Government Business Council, Accenture Federal Services surveyed nearly 500 civilian and defense agency employees to explore their perceptions of intelligent technologies like AI and their potential impact on the federal workforce.

AI important? Yes. Its impacts? Unclear.

51 percent of respondents expect roles in collaboration with AI to increase; however, only 26 percent say their agency has communicated the potential impacts well.

Workers are split on intended benefits.

Half (50 percent) believe their agency is committed to ensuring employee role and skills benefit from new technologies while 29 percent disagree.

Workers feel confident in their ability to adapt.

78 percent are confident in their current skills, 76 percent note adaptability as top attribute needed. Plus 88 percent have interest in learning new skills.

Yet workers also worry about lack of training.

31 percent believe AI will create opportunities for their work, but 61 percent of respondents are worried about lack of technical support and user training.

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People make success possible

Change won’t happen overnight, but how can agencies start preparing their workforce for the world of AI? Here are recommendations for where to dive in:

  1. Educate and energize. Don’t explore intelligent technologies in an IT bubble. Instead, start and nurture a conversation throughout the organization to raise awareness and help employees become conversant and curious. AI will bring significant change, so engage early with formal change management activities to engage the workforce and deliver “what’s in it for me?” messages. Emphasize how intelligent technologies can enable employees to achieve better results by elevating their skills to higher-value tasks. Convey the organization’s commitment to bringing employees on this journey as active participants. Share real-world examples of employees already exploring these skills across the federal government.

  2. Focus on tasks, not jobs. Intelligent technology can accomplish a growing variety of tasks. Engage workforce in thinking through the specific tasks that they complete on a daily basis. Brainstorm together to identify strong candidates for automation and augmentation. This lens will also help to bring forward the more natural job clusters based on the tasks being performed, allowing AI effects to be more visible across jobs, groups and teams.
  3. Co-create the road map. Embed the workforce into the planning process so that intelligent technologies become part of the organization’s culture, building skills while technology is being evaluated. Address how the tools and technologies will support day-to-day work, helping employees identify where they may need to broaden or sharpen their skills. Just as important, consider what is necessary to sustaining this new road map/culture. How can the work be reimagined to uncover opportunities? What are the roles and skills that will be required? How will humans and machines be organized and augment each other’s core strengths?
  4. Incubate technology AND skills. Various federal agencies are already actively incubating intelligent technologies. Just as important is incubating the human skills that will be essential to training, tuning and working with those technologies. Much like babies and children, intelligent technologies thrive in stable environments where they can keep learning and improving. Work with your people to determine how best to provide that environment. While incubating technologies, identify and test the specific roles and skills that will be needed for their “care and feeding.”

Workers want to thrive. Are leaders prepared to engage them?

The federal C-suite needs to tackle workforce transformation together. Each business function may have different needs, and one “size” of training no longer fits all. What works for a subset of the IT workforce may not be appropriate for the finance function, and vice versa. The key is to engage the federal workforce early and often—ensuring that they are co-creators, and trainers, not merely “trainees,” in the government of the future.

Kristen Vaughan

Managing Director – Human Capital


Britaini Carroll

Senior Manager – Human Capital


Michael R. Gavin

Senior Manager – Human Capital

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