New Anti-Fraud Measures Announced to Help Commonwealth Agencies
Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) April 04, 2011
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor today launched new measures to help Commonwealth agencies prevent and combat fraud.
“Fraud is a really low act. There are vulnerable people who genuinely need our help, and fraudsters play on our nation’s generosity for their own criminal purposes,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Fraud is completely unacceptable and that’s why we’re doing all we can to stop it.”
“We’re determined to fight fraud against the Commonwealth by minimising chances for it to occur, and rapidly detecting, investigating and prosecuting fraudsters,” Mr O’Connor said.
The new anti-fraud measures announced today build on a broad range of measures by individual agencies and include:
• shorter and simpler Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines outlining agency obligations
• a new central online portal, Commonwealth Fraud Control Information Online, where agencies and the public can find fraud control information.
The Australian Institute of Criminology’s 2008-09 Fraud Against the Commonwealth report shows that there were about 800,000 incidents of fraud in 2008-09 – that’s a reduction of just under 10% compared to the previous financial year.
Commonwealth agencies reported losses of about $597 million in that financial year – a drop in losses as a proportion of government expenditure compared to 2007-08.
“Even though there were fewer incidents and losses, it’s still a lot of money and there’s always more we can do to boost our vigilance against Commonwealth fraud,” Mr O’Connor said.
The report also shows that the number of dedicated fraud control staff was boosted by 38% in 2008-09, with 827 more workers employed to combat fraud against government departments.
“The new Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines make clear to agencies their obligation to thoroughly investigate, and if needed, prosecute cases of fraud.
“These new resources will also help agencies conduct more rigorous risk assessments and undertake detailed fraud prevention planning.
All Commonwealth agencies face the daily risk of fraud, especially those offering financial support programs designed to benefit Australians, and through arrangements with contractors and suppliers.
Like all businesses, there is also a risk of fraud from staff within Commonwealth agencies.
“Perhaps most disappointingly, in recent times criminals have attempted to exploit government relief payments designed to assist communities to recover from natural disasters.
“It’s awful to think that some people seek to make a profit from measures aimed at relieving human misery, but it does happen and we need to do all we can to stop it,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The threat of fraud is becoming more complex as we strive to deliver government services online and increasingly rely on digital records to deliver more personalised services.
“Technology is making life easier for tens of thousands of Australians and increases the efficiency of government programs. However, it can also create opportunities for cyber criminals, at home and abroad,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We must continue to strive to provide accessible services to Australians – particularly in their hour of need – while guarding against the fraud exposure that these methods can present.”
“Australian taxpayers rightly expect Commonwealth agencies to be vigilant stewards of public funds and make every effort to protect public money and property.
“We take fraud extremely seriously and by providing these new tools we’re determined to ensure that public funds are spent properly and accountably for the benefit all Australians.”
The AIC’s 2008-09 Fraud Against the Commonwealth report is compiled from a confidential survey of 149 Government departments and agencies. The report does not identify particular agencies.
The Fraud Against the Commonwealth report has been pro-actively released publicly for the first time amid a Freedom of Information request. It is available at www.aic.gov.au.
The Fraud Control Guidelines and Fraud Control Information Online are at https://fraud.govspace.gov.au.
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