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Responding to the algorithm assessment

Responding to the algorithm assessment [PDF 204 KB]

Improving government algorithm transparency and accountability

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. 

Technology is moving rapidly and advanced analytical tools, like algorithms, allow an exponential increase in the scale and scope of decision making. 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 report drew on 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 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.

Responding to these recommendations, in 2019 the Government Chief Data Steward has:

  • Developed the Algorithm charter that enables government agencies to make a specific public commitment to the transparent and accountable use of algorithms and other advanced data analytics techniques.
  • Ensured that government agencies can seek external advice from privacy, ethics, and data experts by convening an independent Data Ethics Advisory Group.
  • Begun 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 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.

Algorithm assessment report

Principles for safe and effective use of data and analytics

Privacy Commissioner

Government Chief Data Steward

Algorithm charter

Data Ethics Advisory Group

Data Ethics Advisory Group