RiskTech Forum

SAS: Combating Improper Payments, Fraud, Waste And Abuse

Posted: 14 January 2010  |  Source: SAS


Best practices for government agencies.

Governments at all levels are faced with the challenge of setting agendas and creating the frameworks to improve the lives of citizens. As we all know, government touches each of us daily. Policies and initiatives come and go, each seemingly different from the last. Yet, they all have one thing in common: They all cost money, often a great deal of money. The undeniable truth of government is that it is an expensive business; typically, the more radical the agenda or the more holistic the policy, the more it will cost. Another sad truth is that where there is money, there inevitably are fraud, abuse and error. Such misuse – intentional or not – costs the government and, ultimately, the taxpayers.

In effective democracies, tax revenues are raised to fund programs aimed at serving the needs of the citizens while benefits and funds, on the other hand, can be targeted to those members of society who most need them. Those benefits should be delivered with minimal cost or waste. Most of us agree that taxation is a necessary burden, but it is a burden that is easier to bear when we can see that the system is fundamentally fair.

Consider for a moment fraud in the government. If we accept that government exists to serve the people, to improve our lives, then fraud against the public purse removes some of the funding that could improve the lives of all of us, especially those most in need of government support. Not only is government fraud morally, ethically and legally wrong, it is the antithesis of everything good for which government stands.

But government is large and complex. Unlike banking, for example, where customers can be selected and rejected at will, the nature of government is that it has to work with the whole populace, not just the good, law-abiding,
taxpaying citizens. Mix into this the potential for genuine errors, process failures and delays, and we have an environment where avoidable losses go undiscovered and unrecovered.

The single biggest weapon we have available to counter these losses is the ability to make sense of the reservoirs of intelligence and meaning within the even bigger repositories of raw data that underpin the day-to-day business of government. Intelligence allows us to spot poorly designed processes, hidden relationships within data and the faint traces left by even the best fraudsters so that service can be improved.

It is for this reason that governments around the globe are turning to business analytics to reduce the burden on the taxpayer of fraud, error and abuse and restore that funding back to what it was originally intended for – improving our lives.

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