Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are growing topics across all industries. This has extended into government contracts, as government contractors and federal agencies continue to join the conversation on how the two can be built into strategies and processes to improve efficiency—along with the obstacles of implementation.
What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
GAO outlines AI with varying definitions, but a broad definition provided by the research of Nilsson defines it as, “that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment”. Machine Learning is defined by digital.gov as a “a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that takes human-input data, analyzes it, and learns from it. Three types of learning can occur: supervised learning in which the machine analyzes past high quality data and makes decisions about future data with the learned knowledge, unsupervised learning in which the machine makes inferences about future data based on patterns it finds within past data, and a combination of the two”.
How are AI and ML currently utilized by government contractors?
- Automating Contract Management
Many contracts management process manual tasks, such as, contract review, data entry, and contract analysis are being streamlined with automation from AI and ML. For government contractors, this allows more time for complex tasks and reduces human error in administrative tasks. Often, robotic process automation (RPA) technology is implemented to handle these administrative tasks.
- Contract Performance Improvements
AI and ML have enhanced how data is analyzed by identifying trends and patterns to support more informed decisions. In addition, traceability capabilities eliminate duplicative efforts and rework in the contract lifecycle process. For example, it provides dexterity to quickly reuse requirements, specifications, evaluation criteria, and other documents from earlier on in the lifecycle.
- Better Insights
Real-time insights can now be utilized in contract performance—allowing a quicker response and resolution to any issues that may arise. The creation and linkage of contracts records to proposals records allocates the reuse of required data, tracking modifications, and clause management.
- Enhanced Compliance
Pattern recognition with ML can assist in identifying data and clauses from contract documents to be moved into contracts software to ensure compliance. Automation of tasks can also be viewed as software is utilized to automatically flow-down FAR/DFARs requirements from primes to subs and enable a quicker timeline of OCI vetting in pre-award.
- Streamlined Procurement
AI and ML aid in pre-award and procurement for federal and GovCon with pre-defined workflows to ensure compliance. Delegation of authority to users and vendors can secure compliance with regulations and a fair process. Accompanying compliance capabilities are the AI-assistance of evaluating sourcing, supply chain management, and spend analysis progress.
What are the obstacles of implementation of AI and ML?
Although AI and ML are being implemented throughout GovCon organizations. There are still obstacles to be aware of when successfully incorporating AI and ML into your contracts’ lifecycle management:
- Data Quality
High-quality data must still be input to generate accurate decisions. If data is unreliable, outdated, or incomplete, accurate decisions cannot be made by stakeholders—standardized and customizable templates for your organization can aid in effectively incorporating these capabilities within your contracts process.
- Integration Challenges
Integrating into an organization’s major existing systems and workflows can be a complex and time-consuming process. Furthermore, compatibility with existing systems is crucial for GovCon. To ensure AI and ML capabilities are used productively look for out-of-the-box interfaces with SAM system components and business systems. In addition, expertise in implementation services and user training are indispensable for achieving a successful implementation.
- Security and Privacy Concerns
Governments and government contractors must establish that appropriate security measures are in place to protect classified information. In the GovCon space it can be pivotal to identify AI and ML used in software that meets government standards and closely adapts alongside changing regulations.
These benefits and obstacles in implementation highlight the need for careful consideration and planning when implementing AI and ML especially, in the context of government contracts. AI is predicted to continue playing an evolving role in government contracting with predictive analytics, intelligent contract management, supply chain optimization, and power the use of chat bots in automated negotiation. Governments and contractors must work together closely to ensure that these technologies are used in a way that is secure, transparent, and ethical.
Unison Contract Lifecycle Management suite has been purpose-built to ensure compliance and mitigate risks with must have government contractor-specific features. Manage contracts with standardized workflows that enable scalability and enhance visibility across departments with a FedRAMP Moderate authorized solution that is system independent.
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