A new study has found that Centrelink's data-matching technology, which catches fraudsters out after the fact, is more effective than measures put in place to prevent the fraud in the first place.
The paper, "Detecting and preventing welfare fraud", released by the Australian Institute of Criminology, found that increasing the effort to combat welfare fraud through the use of data-matching could be more effective in detecting and stopping existing fraud than the necessary effort required to preventing the initial onset of fraud.
However, it also found that Centrelink's detection and prevention strategies had promising impacts in preventing the initial onset.
Centrelink's data-matching program cross-references information between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Veteran's Affairs and its own records. It ensures customers are not receiving duplicate payments, and their reported income and personal details match data held by the ATO.
In 2008-09, Centrelink conducted four data-matching cycles, enabling $112.5 million in debt recovery actions against Centrelink customers.
Among other data-matching initiatives, the simple initiative of cross-referencing tax file numbers the organisation received from customers who had started employment but had not declared that employment saved close to $14 million per fortnight.