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Responding to the algorithm assessment

Algorithms are an increasingly large part of everyday life in New Zealand. They have an essential role to play in supporting the delivery of government services to people in New Zealand and in ensuring that government policies are well-targeted and achieve their aims.

Responding to the algorithm assessment - August 2020 [PDF 201 KB]

Improving government algorithm transparency and accountability

Technology is moving rapidly and advanced analytical tools, like algorithms, allow an exponential increase in the scale and scope of decision making. In this fast-moving environment, and following the COVID-19 pandemic, the government must ensure that data ethics are embedded in its work, and always keep in mind the people and communities being served by these tools.

In 2018 the New Zealand government undertook a review of how government agencies use algorithms to improve the lives of New Zealanders. The Algorithm Assessment Report aimed to ensure New Zealanders are informed about the use of government algorithms and the checks and balances that exist to manage their use.

The algorithm assessment report

The report drew on the Principles for the safe and effective use of data and analytics developed by the Privacy Commissioner and the Government Chief Data Steward and made recommendations to improve transparency and accountability in government algorithm use.

The principles for the safe and effective use of data and analytics

The Privacy Commissioner

The Government Chief Data Steward

The Government Chief Data Steward responds to new and emerging data issues, and ensures that government agencies have the capability and right skills to maximise the value of data.

This is achieved through setting data standards and establishing common capabilities, developing data policy, strategy and planning.

The Government Chief Data Steward

Response to the recommendations

Responding to these recommendations, in 2020 the Government Chief Data Steward has:

  1. Released the Algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand in which signing agencies make a public commitment to the transparent and accountable use of algorithms.
  2. Ensured that government agencies can seek external advice from privacy, ethics, and data experts by continuing to convene the independent Data Ethics Advisory Group.
  3. Continued work to ensure that data ethics are embedded at all levels of the government analytics workforce, through improvements in training and professional development for data analysts and decision makers.

The algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand

The Data Ethics Advisory Group

The Government Chief Data Steward continues to work with other functional leads, government agencies, iwi Māori, and other organisations to increase government data transparency and accountability.

Contact us

If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback on this page, please email us at
datalead@stats.govt.nz

Content last reviewed: 01 September 2020


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