Managing the policy lifecycle with AI

For decades, public servants have struggled to invent new and efficient ways of managing and updating the policy lifecycle. AI could finally offer a solution, writes Rob Bollard.

Rob Bollard

Policy makers within government are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring Australia can grow and operate together for the benefit of all.

Across all tiers of government, from federal to state to local, a strong policy lifecycle is the foundation of good government. Expressed through legislation; regulations, policies, and local guidance policies, these have been built over long periods to deliver on the desired strategic and operational outcomes of government.

However, the task of keeping up with and refreshing so many policies is constantly hurdled by slow manual processes, bureaucratic delays, and the complex environment that government faces.

For decades, public servants have tried to invent new ways to expedite this process and enhance its accuracy and efficacy, with mixed results. Yet agencies are still burdened with constant challenges to the process and need to consider new ways.

In the era of rapid technological advancements, responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands tall as a tool that can revolutionise various sectors, including governance and policy making. From agenda setting to policy evaluation, responsible AI offers unprecedented capabilities to streamline processes, better communicate, enhance decision-making, and foster inclusive governance.

Evolving policy environment

In the current policy making landscape, where governance models determines the quality of Australian life, public policies are pivotal in shaping societies. They foster social progress and promotes the nation’s common goals. With each level of government focusing on specific objectives, from federal safety and industry growth to state environmental programs and local community services, the collective aim is clear.

These policies consist of extensive and thorough documentation and although necessary, the current state of manually reviewing and implementing policies means government workers are contributing hours, days, and weeks to formulating policies, time which if optimised, could be used to strategise the improvement of existing and new policy frameworks.

Citizens are increasingly expecting governments to accomplish more, meaning policies too must do the same. The reality of managing and updating hundreds of policies often results in a slow and unclear process, hampered by manual labour and procedural delays. Unfortunately, this sluggishness can often breed uncertainty within policies, creating a ripple effect of ambiguity and misunderstanding among those impacted.

If the intended outcomes of policies are not clearly communicated and accessible, and easy to understand, it opens the door to misinterpretation. Not only will this have real world and potentially legal impacts on Australian civilians, but it impacts the effectiveness of government to achieve its outcomes.

Ultimately, government workers and citizens require a change within policy making, where processes and jurisdiction achieve more efficiency and clarity, and trust can foster further between Australians and government.

Artificial intelligence offers a new path

Responsible artificial intelligence (AI) is already developing a presence within government agencies, given it brings increased personalisation, decisioning, and automation. As agencies tap into potential use cases responsibly, the potential for it to change the way governments operate accelerates dramatically, no different for policy making.

Presenting the ability to reimagine the lifecycle of government policy-making by fostering transparency, fairness, and efficiency, AI can analyse large datasets to identify emerging issues and predict potential outcomes, helping policymakers to make informed decisions.

Upon implementation, AI-powered monitoring systems can stress-test and fast track the development process.

Policies can be evaluated instantaneously, to provide recommendations for adjustments and ensure accountability to deliver on their purpose. Furthermore, the AI-analysis provides specific audited responses with transparent attribution to source content and context for governments who are currently evaluating policy frameworks. This provides a more proactive approach to identifying biases, gaps in policy, and areas of ambiguity, leading to a frictionless and effective policy lifecycle.

Delivery of policy content can be supercharged by generative AI assistants to deliver more consistent and consumable content for both government staff and citizens. This will help agencies better shape policy development and streamline implementation by creating smoother processes to update and operationalise them.

Inclusivity within the policy-making process can be enhanced through AI and its analysis of citizen feedback. AI-driven analytics can assess the impact of policies on various demographic groups, helping governments to refine strategies that address disparities and uphold equity. Responsible AI frameworks prioritise ethical considerations to mitigate bias and ensure decisions align with societal values. Ultimately integrating responsible AI enhances policy efficacy, responsiveness, and trustworthiness, which fosters better outcomes for citizens and communities.

Opening the door to a new Australia

Imagine a world where policy makers could focus on change for the better, can be agile and quicker. Australians would feel a stronger impact of what policies set out to do, and further progress as a nation can be achieved.

Harnessing responsible artificial intelligence within policy making cultivates further trust between government and Australians, removing ambiguity and bias, and while opening the opportunity for more efficient and effective outcomes at federal, state, and local levels.

*Rob Bollard is Industry Principal – Public Sector, APJ at Pegasystems

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