Feeds

UK taxpayers lose billions to errors, fraud and crap IT

Ill-judged re-orgs

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Large-scale errors and fraud in the benefits system cost the taxpayers an estimated £3bn in 2003-04, according to report from the Government's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Problems highlighted included customer and official errors, a complex benefits system and an ill judged IT re-organisation.

The recent move to form Jobcentre Plus and the Pension Service led to an increase in the level of errors by officials, says the report into the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) run system. Staff moving into unfamiliar roles and the introduction of new methods of working and IT systems led to a rise in mistakes, which could have been combated with a comprehensive programme of training and support for staff, says the report.

The DWP also needs to be able to retrieve customer records without "undue effort". The Department has taken steps to improve document storage and retrieval, but improvements are still needed to improve on the 1.3 per cent not being found. Computer logging of all new and existing files will help improve this figure, say the PAC.

Overpayments, which totalled £1.1bn by March 2004, are another stumbling block. With no satisfactory audit trail, not all benefit overpayments had been identified, some had been identified but not referred for recovery action, while others were awaiting input into the recovery systems.

Of the estimated £9bn overpaid on the last three years, only £550m has been recovered. The Department should give priority to increasing the rate at which debts are recognised and recorded, says the report, which calls on the DWP to tighten local office procedures so that all benefit overpayments are identified at source. New IT systems will also help, it adds. The DWP expect to complete the migration of existing data on debt to a new debt management system by September 2005, and believe in around two years' time it will have made substantial progress in improving the management of debt.

The PAC acknowledge that some progress has been made with fraud but it adds that there has been little change in levels of customer error, mainly because of the complexity of the benefits system. The report points out that the wholesale simplification of the benefits system would require major changes in policy, which could result in large increases in expenditure. Despite this, the Department has simplified the rules for some benefits such as Housing Benefit and Pension Credit, and should extend these efforts to other benefits. Rules, systems and processes should be made easier to understand for both staff and customers, say the PAC.

The report is here (403kb - PDF)

Copyright © eGov monitor Weekly

eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.