Communications and Technology

Breaking Down Virginia Gov. Youngkin’s New Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence

Gov. Youngkin’s executive order focuses on government use of AI, protects private sector innovation, and avoids heavy-handed regulations.

On January 18, 2024, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order 30 on Artificial Intelligence. This narrowly tailored approach to AI regulation focuses on the responsible integration of AI across government agencies, K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and law enforcement. The governor further pledged to allocate proposed budgetary funds to launch AI pilots in state agencies.

Unlike President Biden’s sweeping executive order on AI last year, which provides for the micromanagement and strict government supervision of commercial AI models in the name of “trust and safety,” Governor Youngkin’s executive order instead focuses on government use of AI, protects private sector innovation, and avoids heavy-handed regulations being pursued in states like California and New York.

See below for a detailed breakdown of Executive Order 30:

New Policy Standards and an Artificial Intelligence Task Force to Guide Government Use of AI Services

In his Executive Order, Governor Youngkin acknowledged that AI products and services have already been adopted across many state government agencies in Virginia. When properly used, agencies can leverage modern AI tools to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of constituent services, conserving precious taxpayer dollars and reducing the size of government in the process. In the General Assembly, empowering state lawmakers and legislative staff with AI tools could transform the legislative process and make it easier for the public to understand the impacts of proposed legislation and rules in plain language.

To allow the Commonwealth to reap the positive benefits of AI services across government while mitigating the risks, Executive Order 30 directs the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) to develop new AI Policy Standards that establish uniform guiding principles for all Executive Branch Agencies. Such standards include guidance on the ethical use of AI, establish a mandatory approval process for AI implementation in agencies, establish mandatory disclaimers to accompany agency products or outcomes generated by AI, and prescribe measures to protect the personal data of private citizens. VITA will also publish separate AI Information Technology Standards that establish protocols and requirements for Commonwealth agencies and suppliers must follow when using AI products and in the procurement process.

The Order also provides for an Artificial Intelligence Task Force in Virginia to provide ongoing recommendations on the implementation of these standards on a biannual basis. Several states, including Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin, have similarly established dedicated AI task forces, select committees, or advisory boards studying AI’s promise and potential impact in state government.

Guidelines for Use of AI in K-12 Education, Postsecondary Institutions, and Law Enforcement

Executive Order 30 further establishes new Guidelines for AI Integration Throughout Education in the Commonwealth of Virginia designed to embrace technology innovation in education, while prioritizing student data privacy and mitigating discriminatory outcomes. Importantly, these guidelines solidify that “education is ultimately a human endeavor” and that “AI should never fully replace teachers.” Instead, AI tools should be used to augment the work of teachers, allow for more adaptive and personalized learning tailored to individual students, and equip Virginia’s youth with the digital skills they need to succeed in future careers.

Additionally, the Order directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security in conjunction with the Attorney General to develop AI standards for all Executive Branch law enforcement agencies and personnel. Their respective agencies will study whether sufficient safeguards are in place to protect children from online predators using AI and assist local law enforcement with model standards for their use of AI in the field.


Additional Resources:

ALEC Model Policies:

Stop Deepfake CSAM Act

Stop Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Deepfake Media Act

Resolution in Support of Free Market Solutions and Enforcement of Existing Regulations for Uses of Artificial Intelligence

ALEC Analysis:

Key Takeaways from Artificial Intelligence Week and President Biden’s AI Executive Order

ALEC Regulatory Comment:

A Free-Market Roadmap to Artificial Intelligence: ALEC Comment on the NTIA’s AI Accountability Policy