Selected federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have reported employing diverse practices to navigate the regulatory challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies. While these agencies have demonstrated various approaches, the FDA has expressed the need for updated authorities, especially concerning the regulation of medical devices integrated with artificial intelligence (AI).
FDA officials have highlighted the necessity for enhanced regulatory capabilities to effectively oversee medical devices leveraging AI. Congressional members are actively exploring measures to strengthen oversight of AI applications, particularly in the medical field. However, the FDA has not clearly outlined the legislative changes required to address these challenges. This lack of specificity may hinder Congress’s ability to update FDA’s authorities, potentially leading to missed opportunities to harness the full public health benefits of AI-enabled medical technologies.
The selected federal agencies have engaged in interagency collaboration both domestically and internationally to regulate emerging technologies. Collaboration efforts involve information sharing and aligning goals for the effective regulation of these technologies. However, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has not effectively communicated the progress of a department-wide council designed to address jurisdictional and regulatory gaps associated with emerging transportation technologies. By enhancing communication and transparency about the council’s plans and achievements, DOT could provide valuable information to stakeholders and ensure accountability in achieving its objectives.
While selected foreign regulators have implemented extensive knowledge-building and outreach efforts, their domestic counterparts, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), can learn from these practices. Foreign regulators have established clear communication channels with industry, the public, and regulated entities. The FAA, in its recent initiative called the Emerging Technologies Coordination section, has engaged with industry on drone regulation. However, the FAA could enhance its outreach and communication by publicizing this initiative and providing online information on how industry entities can contact this group. Currently, participation is by FAA invitation only, potentially limiting some entities from fully benefiting from the assistance offered.
In summary, the regulation of emerging technologies poses both challenges and opportunities for federal agencies. Addressing these challenges requires enhanced collaboration, clear communication, and proactive efforts to update regulatory authorities. By learning from the experiences of other governments and implementing best practices, federal agencies can navigate the evolving landscape of emerging technologies more effectively.
Read the full GAO report here.