Ministry of Finance Holds Workshop on Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence Procurements
January 2, 2024
January 2, 2024
The UAE Ministry of Finance organized a workshop titled ‘Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence Procurements in the Digital Procurement Procedures Manual’ in partnership with the Office of the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications. The workshop addressed the criteria for selecting AI in ministry projects, the role of AI consultants, and presented a step-by-step manual for making informed decisions when procuring AI solutions. This aims to further the ministry’s strategic objectives in digital transformation, AI technology adoption, and boost the efficiency and quality of government services for citizens and residents.
His Excellency Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, said: “Generative artificial intelligence has the potential to offer tremendous capabilities for governments worldwide to enhance their services and performance amidst growing challenges in data and information management, analysis, and efficient service delivery. This is due to AI’s ability to provide quick and accurate answers to common questions, analyze large quantities of data, identify societal and economic trends and issues, and improve communication and interaction between the community and governments. Moreover, generative AI can enhance governmental decision-making processes, offer reliable and precise information, and provide officials with the necessary tools to make the best decisions, improving responses to crises and emergencies.”
His Excellency Al Khoori added: “Generative artificial intelligence represents a significant step towards improving government operations and development, offering better and more efficient services to society. Its usage in the government and the private sector in general will continue to grow, emphasizing the importance of adopting these technologies correctly to ensure the quality and smoothness of the digital transformation and improve the quality of life in the UAE.”
The workshop provided practical guidelines for procuring artificial intelligence systems, from understanding their functionalities and operational mechanics to the required information. Participants also learned how to assess purchase proposals, strategically plan acquisitions, choose the right vendors, and assemble a skilled team, thereby empowering federal government bodies to optimize the benefits of these AI systems.
There was a review of the definition of AI applications as computer technologies aimed at reproducing human cognitive and operational abilities such as learning, adaptation, sensory understanding, and interaction. Participants were introduced to the evolution of AI methodologies and the use of neural networks for deep learning, which has increased their capabilities to recognize complex patterns and potential outcomes. This has resulted in impressive outcomes through the use of reliable databases and powerful algorithms, achieving a leap in credibility, efficiency, and increased productivity.
The workshop dedicated one of its sessions to AI consultants – the qualified specialists capable of assisting federal government entities in AI purchases. The federal entities can seek the help of more than 400 graduates of the AI program, specialized teams, and experts from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Digital Government (TDRA) by applying to the office of the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications.
Workshop participants were introduced to the various steps of purchasing AI systems and potential solutions when considering a purchase’s challenges and opportunities. This included leaving room for continuous development in applied solutions and conducting seamless purchasing processes that allow the institution to study purchases at different stages, including the proof-of-concept stage aimed at testing technologies and ensuring their effectiveness during offer presentations. Participants also studied in detail the challenges faced when purchasing AI products, the various ways the challenges can be dealt with and emphasis was placed on the importance of clearly presenting the problem to the largest number of AI service providers.
The benefits of AI applications were discussed, the importance of identifying the reason for using AI, and whether it’s the best choice. This included being open to the possibility of using alternative technologies and the institution pointing out the application of AI solutions in the tender if this technology can address the challenges. Clarifying the mechanisms followed if the AI purchase project is unclear and the need to focus on comprehensive research before buying. If it turns out from evaluating the responses to the tenders that different solutions than AI technologies are more efficient, the institution should use them.
The speakers emphasized the importance of aligning AI solutions with the UAE’s artificial intelligence and digital transactions strategy, ‘Blockchain’, verifying the compatibility of applications with the country’s data protection laws and auditing the AI system to be consistent with the AI Ethics policy. AI ethics policies are regularly issued and updated to keep up with changes, requiring the verification of the AI project’s compliance with the state-approved policies. Consultation with the final beneficiary, namely the teams responsible for handling the system to be developed, is essential to avoid mistakes before completing the purchase. This challenge arises as AI applications are designed to solve specific problems, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and often purchasing decisions are made without consulting the ultimate system user who will directly interact with the system.
The workshop emphasized the importance of benefiting from the experiences of other government agencies that purchased AI systems and taking advantage of their successful experiences, contributing to increasing the project’s success rate and avoiding challenges.
The workshop concluded by discussing the auditing of project implementation stages according to the purchase contract and the need for the AI advisory committee to verify the project’s stages of execution to ensure the software’s compatibility, specifications, and operating mechanism with the purchase contract.