Jun 03 2024

Local Governments Must Act Quickly to Navigate AI Disruption

Powerful artificial intelligence tools are at hand, and they will disrupt workers.

Extraordinary disruptions are coming to public and private sector jobs in the near future. Local government CIOs must prepare for the sweeping change to be brought by generative artificial intelligence.

Any organization facing such upheaval may embrace sound change management practices and prepare accordingly with a 30/60/90 plan to achieve goals to navigate this disruption. But such is the power of this generative AI opportunity that I urge local government CIOs to consider a 10/20/30 plan to capitalize quickly on the shifts that are about to occur.

CDW has developed a leadership approach for implementing such accelerated change management specifically for generative AI. It’s our goal to help governments separate the signal from the noise with regard to the impact that the new technology will have on government and civilian jobs.

The program — called Mastering Operational AI Transformation, or MOAT — equips leaders with a common language, agility, strategy and actionable understanding of opportunities and threats to all aspects of business.

AI technology is moving very fast, and local governments may feel as if they don’t have the expertise or the funding to prepare for it. MOAT can help them plan for disruptive change.

Click the banner below for guidance on preparing to use artificial intelligence.


AI Will Disproportionately Impact Specific Jobs

Local government IT leaders must understand that AI is heralding a massive displacement in roles and responsibilities for many occupations. It’s going to impact local governmental considerably.

So, what do we do when faced with displacement by AI and automation? Consider what happened to the Blockbuster video rental chain: They weren’t paying attention to big technological shifts, and they were preoccupied with business as usual. Similarly, local governments might be trapped in bureaucracy and wrapped in a feedback loop.

Goldman Sachs projects about one-fourth of current work tasks could be automated by AI in the United States and Europe. Government is not known for its agility, but there is time and opportunity to energize government with a bold mission plan.

Here is a sampling of jobs soon to be disrupted by AI, according to Goldman Sachs:

  • Office and administrative support, 46%
  • Business and financial operations, 35%
  • Management, 32%
  • Computer and mathematics work, 29%
  • Educational instruction and library roles, 27%

These jobs constitute much of what government does: administrative support functions such as managing forms, processing paperwork and administering related processes.

READ MORE: Local governments can improve customer service with AI.

Multiagent AI Heralds Sweeping Change to Work Tasks

Why is planning for AI disruption so important at this moment? It has to do with the velocity of change, which is accelerating faster than ever in 2024.

There’s been a thousandfold increase in AI computer power in the past year alone. As goes compute, so goes the AI model in terms of change and advancement. Change relies on that compute foundation. The rate of change is doubling every 1.8 months, says noted futurist and computer science expert Ray Kurzweil.

We cannot move fast enough in government — or any business, for that matter — to respond to this.

We have moved from single-prompt AI in 2023 to operating AI special agents with specific skills in the first quarter of 2024. We can now use ChatGPT or open-source AI models to go to the internet and grab data and skills.

We’re entering a state of multiagent AI, and that’s where job disruption really comes in. We have multiple AI agents, each defined with its own role. In this model, which we are using today, these agents work together and collaborate as sort of an artificial set of people to solve a problem.

For single-prompt AI, the success rate for a zero-shot task increased from 48 percent with ChatGPT 3.5 to 67 percent with ChatGPT 4. But with multiple-agent AI, the success rate of ChatGPT 3.5 alone jumps to about a 95 percent for the same task.

That multiagent workflow achieves better output and better results. This is disruptive to workforce and to jobs — more so than simply using AI out of the box in the way we do today. This is profound.

LEARN MORE: Cities can use AI to augment public services.

Local CIOs Must Make the AI Case to Employees and Citizens

We will see jobs in the government and in the community being disrupted. There are a lot of people that are for innovation and a lot of people who are against innovation — both internally within government institutions and externally among citizens.

We can work with governments and help them craft a message that will persuade people to embrace innovation by doing practical, pragmatic AI interactions. We can run scenario-planning with government officials through our MOAT framework. We can focus on positive results, such as how AI can create jobs, improve education and make life better.

According to the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer, government is seen as far less competent and ethical than business. Government is rated 52 points less competent than business. It therefore might behoove government to go with a trusted partner, and I cannot think of any better partner than a solution integrator.

A solution integrator is the business to trust for competency and ethics. Why? Because people don’t trust AI companies either. So, they don’t trust AI companies, and they don’t trust government. As a solution integrator, we can say that we are here to strike a balance and rightsize the technology to protect people and their jobs.

The goal is for the local government and the community to own AI so that AI doesn’t own them.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series.


Boy Wirat/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.