Automating Public Services: Learning from Cancelled Systems

Report by Joanna Redden, Jessica Brand, Ina Sander and Harry Warne: “Pressure on public finances means that governments are trying to do more with less. Increasingly, policymakers are turning to technology to cut costs. But what if this technology doesn’t work as it should?

This report looks at the rise and fall of automated decision systems (ADS). If you’ve tried to get medical advice over the phone recently you’ve got some experience of an ADS – a computer system or algorithm designed to help or replace human decision making. These sorts of systems are being used by governments to consider when and how to act. The stakes are high. For example, they’re being used to try to detect crime and spot fraud, and to determine whether child protective services should act.

This study identifies 61 occasions across Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the United States when ADS projects were cancelled or paused. From this evidence, we’ve made recommendations designed to increase transparency and to protect communities and individuals…(More)”.