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Government of Canada Launches AI Supplier Framework

Despite how hard they try, not every organization can equip themselves to build AI solutions in-house. That includes governments.

To combat a shortage of internal solutions, the Government of Canada has launched a supplier framework meant to provide the country with a list of companies that can reliably and securely deliver AI services and products. These companies will be able to deliver solutions, platforms and frameworks to aid Canada in rolling out new services or programs for citizens.

The companies included in the framework are separated into three bands that define the value of work that can be awarded. Below is a short list of companies in each band, along with a definition of the band. Note that this list is not exhaustive, as band three has over 50 companies included. These companies “met all of the mandatory criteria to provide Canada with responsible and effective AI services, solutions and products” according to a Government of Canada tender notice.

Band One (work up to $500,000 before taxes)

  • Testfire Labs
  • Horoma AI
  • R-Brain

Band Two (work up to $4 million before taxes)

  • Wysdom.AI
  • Stradigi AI
  • Element AI
  • AltaML

Band Three (work up to $9 million before taxes)

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Accenture
  • Deloitte
  • Mindbridge Analytics
  • Open Text

Band three also contained other software giants including IBM, Microsoft, Mcafee, KPMG and more. The idea seems to be that the larger more established technology companies will be granted the biggest AI contracts from the government of Canada while smaller problems will be left for boutique AI firms. In order to qualify for band one, the companies must have proved they delivered at least one successful AI project, while the requirement for band two is three successful AI projects, and band three is at least five AI projects.

Canada’s chief information officer Alex Benay called the launch fo the supplier framework a “big day for automation of Government of Canada services and overall modernization of our institutions.”

The original invitation to qualify features some interesting requirements, including the fact that these AI companies must give the government the ability to derive any source code or reverse engineer from the awarded AI solutions. This means if a large company chooses to use an existing AI platform to help solve one of the government’s problems, they run the risk of handing over their IP to Canadian officials, who can then transfer it to any other department, corporation, or agency as defined in the Financial Administration Act.

In addition, the supplier of an AI solution must provide examples of how it addresses ethical practices while delivering AI, including demonstrating experience in “applying frameworks, methods, guidelines or assessment tools to test datasets and outcomes.”

As of now, the government is focusing on three core AI areas of work: Insights and predictive modelling, machine interactions, and cognitive automation.

At the end of last year, Canada’s Ministers Bains and Brison wrote on harnessing the power of AI for Canadians, saying “Our government wants to make sure that we harness these investments, and the power of AI, to provide better government services to Canadians. With AI, we can reduce backlogs and processing times while offering unprecedented convenience and personalised service to citizens and businesses.”

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