NSW Ombudsman maps agencies' use of ADM

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024

NSW Ombudsman maps agencies' use of ADM

The NSW Ombudsman has tabled a new report into state parliament that sought to outline the use of automated decision-making (ADM) into the NSW public sector.

The special report, published under section 31 of the Ombudsman Act 1974, represents the state’s first attempt to comprehensively identify the ways the public sector is using or planning to use ADM systems in the performance of their functions.

The report includes a list of 275 ADM systems, including tools powered by artificial intelligence, which are in use or planned for use in the NSW public sector.

It is based on research undertaken by the ARC Centre of Excellence on Automated Decision-Making and Society, which based its research on information gathered directly from agencies as well as information in the public domain. Local councils were also invited to participate in the process.

The report was based on voluntary participation because currently agencies and local councils do not have any specific obligation to report on their use of ADM systems. NSW Ombudsman Paul Miller said increased transparency would benefit the public and the government, and is urging the government to consider requiring mandatory disclosures.

“We believe that members of the public whose rights and interests have been materially affected by a decision made with the use of ADM are entitled to be informed of the role ADM played in that decision. Visibility is necessary for people to properly consider and exercise any decision review rights as well as for proper oversight,” he said. “Although this mapping project has produced a point-in-time overview of ADM usage, we echo the research team’s view that voluntary public reporting will not be sufficient to ensure comprehensive and continuing visibility of ADM use across the public sector going forward.”

Image credit: iStock.com/elenabs

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