8 February 2012 

The British Government has launched an All of Government attack on public sector fraud. The measures – aimed largely at those misusing government services rather than corruption by civil servants – seeks to reduce the NZ$60 billion believed to be syphoned unlawfully from the public purse annually. This is a second phase for the Fraud, Error and Debt Taskforce which over the last year is reported to have saved more than NZ$100 million that would otherwise be lost to HM Revenue and Customs.
Ministers published “Tackling Fraud and Error in Government” at a public sector conference this week. They expect joint action across government, and a common commitment by all civil servants to reduce levels of fraud and error. The belief is that by giving effect to a national fraud strategy – “Fighting Fraud Together” – not only will there be significant financial benefits but a reduction in the harm resulting from fraud and error in the public sector.
The focus is on prevention rather than detection or punishment. The plan is to “embrace the power of data analytics” to prevent fraudulent applications for grants, benefits and services. Ministers require a new seriousness in tackling fraud. They want a zero tolerance culture with “swift and sure justice for those who defraud the public sector”. The programme will involve cross-agency cooperation and new ways of information sharing to identify and eliminate threats.
“All civil servants will be required to undertake a fraud awareness e-learning course. There will also be better vetting processes in place to help prevent staff and insider enabled fraud.”