Reimagining policymaking with GenAI

Pegasystems Pty Ltd

By Rob Bollard*
Wednesday, 10 April, 2024

Reimagining policymaking with GenAI

Government policymakers bear the crucial role of fostering Australia’s collective growth and functionality for the shared benefit of its citizens. In the quest for governmental excellence, the journey from policy conception to implementation is often a marathon of endurance, punctuated by hurdles of bureaucracy and archaic processes.

To no one’s surprise, the challenge of maintaining and updating numerous policies is continually met with slow, manual procedures and hold-ups, all within the complex landscape of government operations. In pursuit of efficiency, public servants have spent decades attempting to streamline and refine these processes, aiming for increased precision and effectiveness, yet results have been varied.

In the current policymaking landscape, the way Australia is governed plays a crucial role in the quality of life its citizens enjoy. Public policies are at the heart of shaping our society, driving social advancement and supporting collective national objectives. These policies are detailed and comprehensive, and while essential, the traditional method of manually examining and applying these policies results in government employees spending significant amounts of time on policy development and delivery — a process that, if optimised, could significantly enhance existing and new policy frameworks.

Furthermore, the reality of managing and updating hundreds of policies across federal, state and local levels often results in a slow and unclear process, hampered by manual labour and procedural delays. Unfortunately, this slow pace often leads to uncertainty in policies, which in turn spreads confusion and distrust among Australians. When the objectives of policies are not clearly shared, accessible and easy to grasp, it leaves room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

But what if there was a way to not only expedite this process but also enhance its accuracy and security?

Enter the era where responsible GenAI, which scans and sifts through data in seconds, doesn’t just speed up the policymaking process but also ensures precision and clarity. With similar capabilities, data within government repositories can be scanned in moments, extracting precise answers.

How can this work in practice?

Having undertaken a range of large government digital transformations and led highly successful AI teams for almost a decade, I am often asked by government digital leaders on how best to navigate this space. My philosophy has always been to drive value quickly for both staff and citizens — and to do so in a responsible manner.

The transformation of policymaking hinges on an outcome-led approach that delivers swift, secure value. A valuable first step for agencies could involve adopting generative AI assistants powered by a Real-Time Adaptive Governance (RAG) model. This model leverages AI to dynamically adjust policies based on real-time data, thereby enhancing responsiveness and decision-making. The benefits are manifold, including increased agility in addressing challenges and bolstering public trust through transparent, data-driven governance.

The RAG model allows agencies to be confident that answers are being synthesised from their own approved knowledge bases including legislation, policies and guidelines. The approach underpins traceability, eliminates hallucination in responses and provides a secure platform for government. This capability can be stood up within days to deliver real outcomes within a safe framework for government.

Furthermore, AI-powered systems can streamline policy development and evaluation, offering recommendations for adjustments to ensure policies achieve their intended outcomes. AI-driven analysis also allows for a more proactive approach in identifying policy biases, gaps and ambiguities, leading to a smoother policy lifecycle.

AI can also enhance the inclusivity of the policymaking process by analysing citizen feedback and assessing policy impacts on diverse demographic groups. By prioritising ethical considerations, responsible AI frameworks can mitigate biases and ensure decisions reflect societal values, thereby enhancing policy efficacy, responsiveness and trust.

Hello future of policymaking, meet AI

Much like the discovery of fire, which has been harnessed for humanity’s incredible benefit, the introduction of AI into government policymaking must be respected and utilised responsibly to avoid the obvious dangers. The integration of GenAI-powered assistants into the fabric of government operations offers a promising path forward to improve decision-making, increase agility in addressing emerging challenges, and increase public trust through transparent, data-driven governance. It’s a journey that requires careful navigation, but the destination — a more efficient, transparent and responsive government — is well worth the effort.

*Rob Bollard is the Industry Principal – Public Sector, APJ at Pegasystems. With two decadesexperience in the public sector, previously working as CIO for IP Australia, he now focuses on transforming customer experience within government agencies and public sector organisations. Rob is a previous state and national AIIA iAward Winner.

Top image credit: Planet Studio

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