The Algorithmic Transparency Recording Standard gears up for widespread adoption

The Responsible Tech Adoption Unit (RTA) and the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) are launching a series of updated tools to better support the public sector in using the Algorithmic Transparency Recording Standard (ATRS). 

The ATRS, which was developed in 2021, provides meaningful transparency into algorithm-assisted decision processes by organisations to publish details about the algorithmic tools they use. The standard has been internationally recognised as best practice and has been trialled right across the public sector, including with central and local government, police forces and regulators. 

Among the updated tools is a new repository for ATRS records which will scale to support increased usage of the ATRS, and changes to the ATRS itself in response to feedback. This aims to more clearly separate information relating to the models and datasets, enabling the standard to be applied more easily and deployed in different use cases.

The improvements follow the announcement in the recent government response to the consultation on the AI White Paper, which states use of the ATRS will become a requirement for UK government departments - with plans to bring it to the broader public sector over time. Over 2024, the RTA  will be implementing this increased mandate, and finalising the detailed scope, including some limited but necessary exemption (e.g. for national security).

As part of these ongoing efforts to accelerate and support adoption, the RTA are also introducing regular opportunities to join an ATRS cohort –  a group of similar teams all completing transparency records, following the same timelines for writing and publishing. 

Commenting on this in a recent blog post, they said: “Sharing innovation, experiences and best practice is a key benefit of transparency and being part of a cohort will maximise this opportunity. Cohorts will be open to everyone across the public sector, but for central government in particular this will be a way to get support and share experiences in the run up to the ATRS being mandatory."

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