Legislation Overseeing AI in State Call Centers Advances

Published On: June 4, 2024

The State Senate has passed Senate Bill 1220, by Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), aimed at regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision systems (ADS) in public benefit program call centers. The bill seeks to ensure that AI does not replace core job functions of human workers in state and local agencies.

SB 1220 prohibits agencies from contracting with out-of-state call centers and restricts the use of AI that automates essential job functions. The bill mandates that agencies provide access to human call center workers upon request and develop impact assessment reports detailing the use of AI or ADS.

According to the author, the proposed legislation responds to concerns about the potential negative impacts of AI on the workforce.  A legislative analysis cited instances where AI replacement of human workers led to detrimental outcomes, such as the National Eating Disorder Association’s chatbot giving harmful advice and Michigan’s flawed unemployment insurance AI system wrongly charging recipients with fraud.

Meanwhile, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) has launched a Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2) to modernize its call center operations with GenAI. As part of a larger effort launched by the Newsom Administration in January, this initiative aims to leverage GenAI to search reference materials and provide accurate responses to taxpayers swiftly. CDTFA Director Nick Maduros emphasized the complexity of tax regulations and the department’s commitment to assisting taxpayers. “Our goal is to use GenAI to make it easier for taxpayers to pay their taxes on time, thereby efficiently funding essential services for all Californians,” Maduros said in a press release announcing a new partnership associated with the RFI2.

Last month, the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) announced partnerships with five vendors from its initial round of RFI2 solicitations. These vendors will develop proofs of concept using GenAI technologies on platforms like Amazon (AWS) Cloud, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and ServiceNow.

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org