Algorithmic Transparency in the Public Sector

Tabitha Goldstaub, Professor Aldo Faisal
Wednesday 7th April 2021, 13:40

Reform is delighted to be partnering with Imperial College London’s The Forum to deliver a virtual policy hackathon on the topic of ‘algorithmic transparency in the public sector’; hosted via Zoom on Wednesday 7th April 2021.

In recent years, public sector organisations have increasingly made use of algorithms to assist in decision making. However, legitimate concerns exist that the use of algorithms to make complex and high-impact decisions may lead to unfair outcomes and reinforce existing biases. Greater algorithmic transparency has been posited as a solution to these problems – transparent access to both the inputs and outputs of algorithms can help build public trust and bring necessary scrutiny to decision-making processes. However, greater algorithmic transparency poses technical and ethical challenges of its own – concerns have been raised that even if algorithms are made more transparent, they may remain inaccessible and unintelligible to the general public; that greater transparency may have implications for privacy and data security; and that knowledge of algorithmic inputs and outputs may make it easier for those with perverse interests to ‘game the system’.

This hackathon will bring together an international group of experts including senior policymakers, academics and private sector representatives to explore practical solutions to the challenges posed by algorithmic transparency. Tabitha Goldstaub, Chair of the UK Government’s AI Council, will give a 15-minute opening address broaching the key themes of the Hackathon.

The hackathon is designed to enable a more solution-focused discussion on key policy questions. Working closely with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and the Government Digital Service, Reform will identify a set of scenario-based problems exemplifying key challenges around algorithmic transparency in the public sector that attendees will be tasked to solve during the event. The aim is to come out with practical steps and solutions to the problems.

Draft agenda for the day:

13.40- Welcome remarks from Reform and Professor Aldo Faisal, Professor of AI and Neuroscience, Imperial College London

13.50- Keynote speech from Tabitha Goldstaub, Chair of the UK Government AI Council

14.05- Hackathon instructions

14.15- Policy challenge round 1

15.00- Break

15.15- Policy challenge round 2

16.00- Closing remarks

16.10- Event close

Please register your interest by emailing