Tackling Program Integrity in Government Services
Government agencies face two key challenges: budgets under pressure and programs have to be streamlined to fight off fraud, waste, and abuse. Fortunately, agencies now have access to data and analytics tools that can help ensure program integrity and save taxpayer money.
On May 23, Government Executive Media Group hosted a webinar called “Program Integrity: Ways to Prevent Fraud & Abuse in Government Programs.” Federal and state officials discussed how they’re using a combination of internally-generated data, commercial databases, and analytics to:
- Streamline processes
- Enhance program integrity
- Reduce improper payments
As a result, they’re improving efficiencies and delivering the right services to the right beneficiaries.
Top 4 Webinar Takeaways
Here are a few key points that I found especially relevant:
- Help ensure benefits go to the right people by using third-party data and analytics.
“Pay and chase” is an expensive model for trying to recover payments made to ineligible people or criminals. So, preventing these erroneous payments is critical. Agencies can do this by using automated cross-matches and drawing upon numerous databases.
One state agency estimated over $1 billion in cost avoidance across three benefits programs by using cross-matches to focus on front-end fraud investigations.
In addition, webcast participants said income and employment (33% of respondents) and criminal and incarceration data (22%) would be most valuable to integrate into their verification processes.
- Proactively focus on front-end fraud investigations and recovery.
This approach helps organizations provide better service and achieve a positive return on investment. For example, a state agency mentioned using Equifax’s income verification data to identify fraudulent payments quickly and move them to the front of its investigations queue. They reduced the number of erroneously paid benefits and the number of backlogged investigations.
- Organizational structure should support program integrity.
Issues with organizational structure may cause inefficiencies that mean things take longer, use more resources, and generally slow processes. Agencies are looking at optimal organization structures to promote program integrity. They are asking questions like: Should there be an undersecretary for program integrity? Should this kind of effort be centralized or decentralized? What kind of oversight is required?
- Get buy-in from different departments within the organization.
Leaders recognize that systems cross organizational lines, so having each group’s support is crucial. It’s good practice to include different departments and disciplines, such as direct services, IT systems, data experts, and those with law enforcement expertise.
Improve Your Government Services
In conclusion, I’ve seen how data and analytics can confirm individuals’ identities and monitor eligibility for benefits. As a result, government clients have reduced improper payments, while improving their ability to deliver the right services to the right people, at the right time.
Working with a company like Equifax helps agencies simplify integration and ongoing maintenance of data connections. Using our unique income and employment data sets and integrating others — like asset, property, incarceration, and criminal data — helps agencies to proactively validate applicants and monitor services provided to beneficiaries.
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