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UK Gov AI-Driven Civil Service Job Cuts, Shuns EU’s Specific AI Legislation

Last Updated March 20, 2024 6:06 PM
Samantha Dunn
Last Updated March 20, 2024 6:06 PM

Key Takeaways

  • The UK government’s new framework aims to capitalize on Artificial Intelligence in public project delivery.
  • The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) emphasizes the potential of AI to transform the management of over £805 billion in public projects.
  • This initiative encourages civil servants to leverage AI technologies but may see significant job cuts in the civil sector.

The UK government has unveiled a new framework  that aims to capitalize on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enhance the efficiency of public project delivery.

This may involve job cuts as AI is used to drive efficiency, the UK’s Cabinet Office secretary admits.

Following the unanimous approval of the EU’s AI Act, the UK holds firm in adopting an alternative approach to regulating AI.

Harnessing AI for Enhanced Public Project Delivery

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) today revealed the UK Government’s public project AI strategy, emphasizing the potential of AI to transform the management of over £805 billion in public projects.

This initiative encourages civil servants to leverage AI technologies, as part of a broader governmental plan to use AI to drive efficiencies and improve productivity in government and the public sector.

The publication of this framework follows Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden’s speech on ‘AI for Public Good ’, and coincides with the announcement that Microsoft AI’s new CEO is British entrepreneur Mustafa Suleyman.

AI Will Speed Up “Dogsbody Work” Dowden Says

Earlier this year Oliver Dowden said adopting AI could be a “significant downward driver” in reducing the civil service headcount.

Dowden champions AI as the essential tool for reducing the civil service’s workforce, aiming for a 66,000 job cut by the next Spending Review as reported by The Telegraph.

In his discourse, Dowden identifies AI as critical in achieving sustainable headcount reductions, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic and Brexit.

“Remember how much the size of the civil service has grown as a result of the pandemic and EU exit preparedness. We need to really embrace this stuff to drive the numbers down. By doing those things better, you have to have fewer civil servants doing the administrative tasks that drive these things, which should lead us to savings both on headcount and on overall budget,” Dowden said.

The government plans to invest £110m in the AI Incubator to streamline operations and reduce “dogsbody work,” signaling a shift towards more AI-driven processes in various sectors.

Balancing AI Integration and Workforce Concerns

With less of a focus on driving AI-specific legislation, the UK is taking a different route to the EU in its AI ambitions.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Cabinet Office Minister of State, noted in the government framework release:

“As a former business executive I am delighted that our new framework sets out our determination to explore the possibilities further through collaboration, upskilling and experimentation.”

Upskilling workers is a key focus, outlined in the framework, with a specific focus on project delivery professionals in AI and data analytics that will tackle issues like overspend and delays.

Given the government’s focus on streamlining and efficiency, as well as the previous admission that up to 66,000 jobs will be cut, many civil servants are be facing the reality that they may not be included in those who will be upskilled in AI.

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