Analytical Modelling and UK Government Policy

AI and Ethics 1 (1):1-16 (2021)
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Abstract

In the last decade, the UK Government has attempted to implement improved processes and procedures in modelling and analysis in response to the Laidlaw report of 2012 and the Macpherson review of 2013. The Laidlaw report was commissioned after failings during the Intercity West Coast Rail (ICWC) Franchise procurement exercise by the Department for Transport (DfT) that led to a legal challenge of the analytical models used within the exercise. The Macpherson review looked into the quality assurance of Government analytical models in the context of the experience with the Intercity West Coast franchise competition. This paper examines what progress has been made in the 8 years since the Laidlaw report in model building and best practise in government and proposes several recommendations for ways forward. This paper also discusses the Lords Science and Technology Committees of June 2020 that analysed the failings in the modelling of COVID. Despite going on to influence policy, many of the same issues raised within the Laidlaw and Macpherson Reports were also present in the Lords Science and Technology Committee enquiry. We examine the technical and organisational challenges to progress in this area and make recommendations for a way forward.

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Marie Oldfield
University of Glasgow

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