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Is AI Worth the Buzz?

Health IT panelists offer perspectives on acquisition and the future of artificial intelligence.

Acquisition strategy decisions are based on market research. And while requests for information may seem discouraging at times, the efforts are worthwhile. 

Speaking directly to small business representatives, Theresa Terry, team lead, Category Management and Services Acquisition Division for the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, strongly urged for partnership among colleagues during a panel discussion at the AFCEA Bethesda Chapter 2024 Health IT Summit in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The information that you provide us with is critical to decision-making,” she emphasized. Information and meaningful responses will help businesses get their foot in the door.

“Be annoying,” she told the audience. The speaker urged audience members to continue reaching out—eventually, someone is going to listen, she said. 

“It is important for you to understand what we’re supposed to be doing. If you come to sit down for a one-on-one and you can’t tell me what my mission is, you already lost my interest.” 

Panelists at the Health IT Summit 2024 discuss AI in government acquisition.
Panelists at the Health IT Summit 2024 discuss AI in government acquisition.

Additionally, Terry shared her views on a trending buzzword. 

Prefacing her statement by saying that the opinions expressed are only her own and not of the U.S. Air Force, Terry believes that the power of AI could potentially take care of surface level matters, or speed up certain processes. “But to replace? Absolutely not. That’s Theresa’s opinion,” she stated. 

Echoing Terry’s statements was Nancy Norton, the director for the Office of Acquisitions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While she sees AI’s potential in keeping processes more consistent, Norton believes that “we are a long way off.” 

While speaking at the annual event, Norton also shared that after undergoing a complete agency reorganization, the CDC is currently looking to fill 40 GS-13 vacant positions. 

The panelists were joined on stage by Ricky Clark, deputy director at the National Institute of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center; Michael Parrish, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chief acquisition officer; and moderator Jason Miller, executive editor at Federal News Network.