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Businesses to trial Australian government’s AI principles

Five companies in Australia, including some of the country’s biggest, are to trial eight artificial intelligence (AI) principles developed as part of the government’s AI Ethics Framework. Microsoft, National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank, telecommunications specialist Telstra, and software company Flamingo AI have signed up to test the principles to “ensure they deliver practical benefits […]

UK civil service chief blocks opposition policy costings as election looms

The UK’s Cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, Mark Sedwill, has intervened to block the release of a government document estimating the costs of the opposition Labour Party’s policies, as campaigning begins for a general election on 12 December. The costings were put together by Treasury officials at the request of the governing […]

UK-Australian space tech scheme to boost Pacific climate resilience

The UK Space Agency and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have invited international partners to work with them on projects designed to deliver sustainable benefits to small island developing states in the Pacific. The projects, to be delivered through the Department for International Development scheme UK aid, will use data collected by satellites to improve […]

Singapore appoints new civil service chiefs

Five civil servants have been appointed to permanent secretary and second permanent secretary positions in four departments, the Singapore Public Service Division (PSD) announced last week. On 18 November, Stanley Loh Ka Leung will take on the roles of second permanent secretary (special duties) at the Prime Minister’s Office, second permanent secretary at the Ministry […]

US Department of Defense to consider ethical AI recommendations

The US Defense Innovation Board has unanimously agreed on five artificial intelligence (AI) ethics principles that it recommends the Department of Defense (DoD) consider when implementing the emerging technology.    The board – which is chaired by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, and includes distinguished academics, think tank founders, and senior executives of companies […]

Irish government departments face funding cuts over missed climate change targets

Irish government departments and agencies that fail to deliver on climate action commitments will be punished with reduced funding, the government has confirmed. Details of the penalties – which will be a key element of five-yearly carbon budgets, legislation for which is due to be published by the end of the year – were revealed […]

Japan to encourage civil servants to take more paternity leave

The Japanese government is to begin encouraging male civil servants to take more than one month childcare leave from 2020, government sources told Japan Today last week. The government is also said to be considering introducing measures to evaluate managers’ performance based partly on how many subordinates take such leave, and to make it easier […]

Indian government intervenes in battle over AI roles

The Indian government has formed a committee to resolve differences between the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and policy think tank Niti Aayog over the implementation of the government’s artificial intelligence (AI) programme. The new panel is chaired by the government’s principal scientific advisor K. VijayRaghavan – a professor and former secretary of the […]

UK defence ministry to launch buying framework for digital contract staff

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to establish a framework for hiring external contractors to help deliver digital and IT programmes, making it available to all national public sector bodies. The MoD plans to award contracts in July 2020 to a pool of “strategic partners” – likely to be between six and nine companies […]

Procurement, integration and adaptation are biggest barriers to AI, study finds

The greatest obstacles to the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the public sector lie in building procurement capabilities, integrating AI with existing systems, and adapting systems to specific delivery environments, according to a study by global professional services company Accenture. The study — based on a survey of 300 government leaders and senior […]

Australia’s approach to FOI breaches spirit of federal law, says former information chief

The Australian government’s approach to Freedom of Information (FOI) is undermining transparency and breaching the spirit of federal law, according to the country’s former information officer, John McMillan. McMillan was referring, in comments reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, to the government’s failure to appoint three statutory commissioners – an omission that, he says, contravenes […]

US bill proposes personal liability for company executives over data misuse

US Democrats are championing a bill which, if passed, would make it a criminal offence for company bosses to lie to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about privacy practices. The Mind Your Own Business Act would give the FTC, which is responsible for privacy protections, the power to impose jail sentences of up to 20 […]

UK government promises digital progress metrics after critical report

The UK has pledged to develop a “robust” set of metrics to measure the progress of digital initiatives, following a highly critical report which found the government’s digital agenda has “lost momentum”. The government agreed with MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, whose report was published in July, that it should […]

Irish government commission calls for new pay review body

Ireland’s Public Service Pay Commission has called for the re-establishment of a dedicated review body to examine pay in the civil and public service, after a government report found that pay caps that apply to top-level staff are leading to staff shortages. The commission was responding to a report by the Department of Expenditure and […]

Indian PM gives former officials ministerial jobs as focus on delivery grows

Former civil servants and diplomats are increasingly being given Cabinet ranking or ministerial jobs in Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s second term – bringing more delivery experience into the top of government and empowering top officials, but raising concerns over a blurring of the dividing line between civil servants and politicians. Three serving officials have […]

New Zealand launches draft algorithm charter for government agencies

The New Zealand government has launched a draft ‘algorithm charter’ that sets out how agencies should analyse data in a way that is fair, ethical and transparent. The charter, which is open for public consultation, sets out 10 points that agencies would have to adhere to. These include pledging to explain how significant decisions are […]

Bill seeks to protect US federal scientists from political influence

A US committee has advanced a bill to protect federal scientists and their research from political interference.   The Scientific Integrity Act – which the House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved by 25 votes to six on 17 October – aims to protect science, the scientific process, and the communication of science from politics, […]

UK Department for Work and Pensions accelerates use of robots

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is accelerating its use of automated systems to handle claims for benefits, in a move some fear will disadvantage welfare recipients. The DWP has hired nearly 1,000 new IT staff in the last 18 months, and increased spending to about £8m (US$10.3m) a year on its Intelligent […]

Backbench amendment forces UK PM to request new Brexit delay

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been forced to write to the European Council asking for a further delay to Brexit, after the ‘Meaningful Vote’ motion approving the exit deal – which was finalised with the EU last Thursday – was amended in the House of Commons. The Letwin amendment, championed by former Tory minister […]

Former CIO warns that Canada lacks the ‘building blocks’ of digital economy

Alex Benay, Canada’s former chief information officer, has warned that officials are not making sufficient progress on digital identity, which he argues is the cornerstone of a digital economy.   Speaking with Global Government Forum, Benay – who announced his departure from government in August, and has since joined Artificial Intelligence firm MindBridge Ai as […]