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Mayor de Blasio Signs Executive Order to Establish Algorithms Management and Policy Officer

November 19, 2019

New role comes after review of the Automated Decision Systems Task Force Report

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed an Executive Order to establish an Algorithms Management and Policy Officer within the Mayor’s Office of Operations. The Officer will serve as a centralized resource on algorithm policy and develop guidelines and best practices to assist City agencies in their use of algorithms to make decisions. The new Officer will ensure relevant algorithms used by the City to deliver services promote equity, fairness and accountability. The creation of the position follows review of the recommendations from the Automated Decision Systems (ADS) Task Force Report required by Local Law 49 of 2018, published here.

“Fairness and equity are central to improving the lives of New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With every new technology comes added responsibility, and I look forward to welcoming an Algorithms Management and Policy Officer to my team to ensure the tools we use to make decisions are fair and transparent.”

“I’m excited that the Mayor is creating a position for someone who will carry forward the important work the City has done around algorithms and decision-making,” said Jeff Thamkittikasem, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations and Chair of the ADS Task Force. “At Operations, we are experts on policies around data, privacy, project management, and economic opportunity, among other related topics. I’m proud of the work the Automated Decision Systems Task Force completed during the past 18 months, and am glad this work will continue within our office.”  

The Algorithms Management and Policy Officer will develop guidelines and best practices to assist City agencies in their use of tools or systems that rely on algorithms and related technologies to support decision-making. As part of that effort, the Officer and their personnel support will develop processes for agency reporting and provide resources that will help the public learn more about how New York City government uses algorithms to make decisions and deliver services.

The officer will also be supported by a newly created steering committee composed of members from City agencies and an advisory committee of appointed members of the public, both of which will advise the officer on its work. The goal of these bodies is to continue to drive the conversation around algorithms and the technology that supports their use both within City government and with the public.

The new officer will report to the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations and will draw on the expertise and employees of the office to conduct their work. The Mayor’s Office of Operations is composed of multiple other offices, including the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, and the Mayor’s Office of Information Privacy.

The ADS Task Force, which first convened in May 2018 and was chaired by the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, was required by Local Law 49 of 2018 to provide the Mayor and City Council with recommendations around the management of ADS. In addition to its own frequent meetings over 18 months, the Task Force also held two public forums, and worked with community leaders and elected officials to conduct five community roundtables to gather input from the public to incorporate into its final recommendations.

The Task Force is composed of representatives from city agencies and outside experts in data and technology, law, human rights, academia, and government, and will officially dissolve in January per the Local Law. The Algorithms Management and Policy Officer will continue the important work and discussions initiated by the Task Force, and will serve as a central resource for the city and public on all matters related to ADS. 

“At the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics we find ways to use data to improve decision-making and drive forward our core values of equity, accountability, and transparency for New Yorkers,” said Kelly Jin, NYC Chief Analytics Officer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, and Co-Chair of the ADS Task Force. “I look forward to working with the new Algorithms Management and Policy Officer to ensure that emerging algorithmic tools are managed and implemented effectively, and in a way that helps New Yorkers understand and connect with City services and programs.”

"I'm proud of the work this Task Force has done together and the recommendations we have produced,” said Brittny Saunders, Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives, NYC Commission on Human Rights and ADS Task Force Co-Chair. “Developing solutions to complex problems is never easy, especially when you are charting new territory. New York City undertook to be the first city to take on these challenges, and so many of our Task Force members from different sectors of the city engaged in good faith and took the time to educate and learn from one another, allowing us to propose this framework for government oversight of ADS. I’m excited to see how stakeholders in New York City build on this foundation, and how it informs the work in other cities who will now have a reference point."

"Governments increasingly rely on data-driven tools to make more effective and timely decisions, yet, these tools can also come with risk. Today's announcement represents an important first step for New York City in promoting responsible innovation and fairness in government," said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of Tech:NYC and member of the ADS Task Force. "In our Task Force's report, we made a number of recommendations for how the City should govern its use of algorithmic tools, including for the City to establish a centralized resource to guide agencies, and I am glad to see the Mayor embracing this recommendation with the creation of the new position for an Officer of Algorithms Management and Policy."

"It has been a privilege to serve on the mayoral Automated Decision Systems (ADS) Task Force, joining distinguished members with expertise in data science, government, and civil rights, and receiving input from experts and New Yorkers on standards to use ADS efficiently and equitably," said Susan Sommer, General Counsel at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and member of the ADS Task Force. "The Mayor’s Executive Order implements key recommendations of the Task Force, moving us forward on the cutting edge of data-driven solutions to better serve all New Yorkers while safeguarding important values of fairness, transparency, and accountability. The new position of Officer of Algorithms Management and Policy, advised by an Algorithms Steering Committee and Algorithms Advisory Committee, will guide government agencies to use ADS wisely into the future."

"Cutting-edge technologies, based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, hold the promise of benefiting all citizens of New York City," said Jeannette Wing, Avanessians Director, Data Science Institute, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University, and member of the ADS Task Force. "These technologies come with risks. I commend the Mayor for taking bold and forward-looking action, in response to the report by the Task Force on Automated Decision Systems, to create a position that will guide how city agencies can use these technologies in a responsible way, to ensure all New Yorkers are treated fairly and equitably."

“ADS management and oversight are difficult," said Julia Stoyanovich, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Assistant Professor of Data Science at NYU, and member of the ADS Task Force. "The Mayor's executive order is a necessary step towards making the recommendations from the ADS TF concrete and actionable. I am particularly looking forward to seeing evidence of a strong commitment on the part of the City to a broad education effort. Educating the public on ADS is essential to moving beyond the harmful extremes of techno-optimism and techno-bashing, and into a thoughtful and productive conversation about the role of technology in society.”

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