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Procurement of AI and data-driven systems in local government

The role of procurement in ensuring that AI and data-driven systems used in local government work for people and communities

Project lead
Mavis Machirori
Project member
Anna Studman

Project background

Expected to provide a range of public services on diminished budgets, local government and councils are increasingly considering or using AI systems to enhance public service delivery. This is through applications such as data analytics, document analysis and internal knowledge management, to managing public enquiries.

These technologies are more likely to be procured from third-party suppliers than developed in-house. Many councils are in discussions with private-sector companies.

The procurement process therefore provides an important opportunity for local government to work with companies to understand, consider and discuss the possible impacts of AI systems on communities before they are in use.

Project aims

This project will explore how procurement decisions by local government can be made with principles of equity, fairness, public engagement and impact on communities in mind.

The first research output will be an analysis of existing procurement guidance and legislation, mapping existing information on embedding ethical principles in procurement, and identifying where the gaps are.

This will be followed by collaborative research with procurement stakeholders on how to operationalise ethical principles in this process.

Image credit: nathaphat

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