What forms of mandatory reporting can help achieve public-sector algorithmic accountability?

7 October 2020

An Ada Lovelace Institute virtual event

Thursday 29 October 13:00-14.00 GMT

Join the Ada Lovelace Institute and international experts in public administration algorithms and algorithmic registers, to look at the transparency mechanisms that should be in place to enable us to scrutinise and challenge algorithmic decision-making (ADM) systems, in use in central and local government.

Register for the event


Speakers:

  • Soizic Penicaud, Etalab, France
  • Meeri Haataja, Saidot, Finland
  • Natalia Domagala, Head of Data Ethics, UK Cabinet Office
  • Matthias Spielkamp, Algorithm Watch

Chair:

  • Imogen Parker, Head of Policy, Ada Lovelace Institute

Over the last few months, high profile cases of algorithmic decision-making (ADM) systems – such as the Home Office visa streaming tool, the Ofqual’s A-level grading algorithm, which were both abandoned, and the ‘Most Serious Violence’ programme under consideration by the West Midlands Police Ethics Board – have featured in the headlines. And research which reveals the extensive application of predictive analytics in public services across the UK is bringing into focus the increasing adoption of technological solutions to address governance problems.

However, there remains a persistent, systemic deficit in public understanding about where and how these systems are used, pointing to a fundamental issue of transparency.

In this event, we look at the transparency mechanisms that should be in place to enable us to scrutinise and challenge algorithmic decision-making (ADM) systems, in use in central and local government, and their process of deployment.

Among the proposals to achieve a baseline level of transparency is the possibility of instituting a public register as a mechanism for mandatory reporting of ADM systems. The proposal has been raised internationally, at a national and European level, and is now being tested in the cities of Amsterdam and Helsinki.

But while various options are considered for increasing algorithmic accountability in public-sector ADM systems in the UK, it is important to ask: what does effective mandatory reporting look like?

Join the Ada Lovelace Institute and international experts in public administration algorithms and algorithmic registers, to help surface key concerns, and relate them to the governance landscapes of different national contexts. In this event we will ask:

  • How do we ensure that information on ADM systems is easily accessible and that various actors, from policymakers to the broader public, can meaningfully engage with it?
  • What are the pros and cons of setting up a register? How should it be structured? Is it the best way to enforce mandatory reporting? How will different audiences be able to mobilise the information it collects?
  • How do we ensure that, whichever transparency requirement is in place, it leads to reliable accountability mechanisms?

Register for the event


We are using Zoom for virtual events open to more than 40 attendees. Although there are issues with Zoom’s privacy controls, when reviewing available solutions we found that there isn’t a perfect product and we have chosen Zoom for its usability and accessibility. Find out more here.

A recording and summary of the talk will be available on this page shortly afterwards.


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Image credit: AdemAY