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MANAGEMENT UPDATE.

OKLAHOMA JOB SHIFT

Over the past year and a half, we’ve talked with scores of state and local officials about the impact of artificial intelligence on government jobs. Many individuals cautiously sidestep the question of whether fewer public sector jobs will ultimately exist.


No side-stepping occurred recently in Oklahoma, where the opportunity to reduce government jobs is seen as a good thing for private sector companies that can’t fill their open positions. A late January press release from Governor Kevin Stitt’s office laid out recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Emerging Technologies, citing a major shift out of public sector jobs as a big win for Oklahoma’s private sector.


AI “has the potential to help us steward taxpayer dollars in a more responsible way by cutting redundant positions and replacing some positions with AI technology,” Gov. Stitt said in the release. “In Oklahoma, 21% of the workforce is employed by federal, state or local governments while the ideal percentage would be closer to 13%. Artificial intelligence creates possibilities for more efficient employment and government services."



The report lays out the reasons the state is moving full speed ahead to take advantage of the opportunities AI presents, indicating that “As the number one employer in the State, with approximately 21% of the workforce engaged in public sector jobs, Oklahoma could face a challenge in attracting private sector companies. Due to a high percentage of the available workforce working in the public sector and a low unemployment rate of approximately 3.2%, this public employment phenomenon is economically referred to as ‘crowding out.’”


With approximately 65,000 citizens unemployed in the state against a posted 100,000 job vacancies, “Oklahoma can seize upon AI as an opportunity to automate repetitive state related tasks and return some of the available workforce to the private sector,” according to the task force.


With the goal of establishing Oklahoma “as the top state in the responsible, safe, secure, and proactive use (of) Artificial Intelligence,” the report outlines a set of ambitious plans to advance AI work.  This includes a focus on oversight, governance, the development of a workforce skilled in AI use, and guidance on the important issues of fairness, privacy, and transparency. 


“This can improve citizen satisfaction by providing quicker responses and reduce the administrative burden on staff, allowing them to concentrate on more substantive matters,” the report states. 


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