County of Santa Cruz
County of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has unanimously adopted an adaptive Artificial Intelligence Appropriate Use policy, becoming among the first local governments in the United States to encourage the use of artificial intelligence among staff while creating a framework to address concerns related to the technology.

The policy allows and encourages the continued use of artificial intelligence (AI) in County operations, while providing guidelines to avoid misuse and the sharing of sensitive information, and to continue to center human judgment in core decisions related to local government operations. It includes definitions and usage guidance, and is expected to undergo regular reviews and updates to stay current with technological and ethical developments.

The AI policy provisions adopted by the Board on Sept. 19 include:

Data Privacy and Security — Staff must comply with all data privacy and security standards, including protecting personally identifiable information and protected health information.

Informed Consent — Members of the public should be informed when they are interacting with an AI tool and have an “opt out” alternative.

Responsible Use — AI tools and systems shall only be used in an ethical manner.

Avoiding Bias — AI practices should be monitored for bias and regularly reviewed to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Decision Making — AI tools should not be used to make impactful decisions.

Accountability — Employees are solely responsible for ensuring the quality, accuracy, and regulatory compliance of all AI-generated content utilized in the scope of employment.

The guidelines were developed by an internal policy committee consisting of staff from the Information Services, Personnel, County Counsel, and the County Administrative Office. In addition, a 12-member “AI Early Adopters Workgroup” representing six departments and interested technology sector community stakeholders provided feedback that informed development of the policy.

A formal rollout of the policy is expected in October. Over the next six months, the County will monitor usage, collect feedback and issue updates to the policy in accordance with Board direction, before reporting back to the Board in March 2024.

Furthermore, the AI Policy Committee will develop procurement guidance for AI systems, identify County software systems that embed AI technologies and understand how AI-related risks are addressed by vendors, identify AI training opportunities for staff and identify opportunities where AI can improve County services.

Since the County announced its intention to draft an artificial intelligence policy on June 13, several local governments have adopted their own policies, and on Sept. 6, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to study the development, use and risks of AI technology throughout the state and to develop a process for evaluating deployment of AI within state government.

To download the policy, visit

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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