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Video transcript: Dale Elvy - Reviewing government use of algorithms

Kia ora.

I’ve been working with the Department of Internal Affairs, and the Privacy Commissioner, on how the government uses data, and analytical tools like algorithms.

Algorithms are automatic decision-making processes used by computers to identify patterns in data. They inform decisions that directly impact us but often we’re unaware of them.

Together with the Privacy Commissioner, we’ve developed six principles for government to support the safe and effective use of data and analytics. These include maintaining a focus on people and retaining human oversight.

Our work is to look at the algorithms used by government and to support agencies to ensure that significant decisions affecting New Zealanders are more transparent and accountable.

Partnering with the Government Chief Digital Officer and working with DIA and 12 other government agencies we produced the algorithm assessment report.

Our focus was on how data informs significant decisions about New Zealanders, and we assessed this against the six principles.

The report found that while a range of safeguards exist, government agencies need to do more to consider the views of the people who are impacted by government algorithms.

One recommendation was to establish an advisory group of independent experts to advise and guide agencies.

More work is underway to respond to the report’s recommendations and to improve the transparency and accountability of government algorithms.