- the threats posed by fraud and corruption in the public sector
- the need to further develop an anti-fraud and corruption culture in Wales
In 1999/00, detected fraud in local government and the health service in Wales increased to around£4.8m, the majority of this relating to local government. The report acknowledges that the public sector in Wales increasingly recognises the importance of establishing robust arrangements to prevent and detect fraud and corruption.
The increase in detected fraud is largely due to the success of these measures, and more long running, high value frauds being detected. The report also contains a number of case studies that highlight the nature of some frauds uncovered as a result of work undertaken by the Audit Commission in Wales (see notes).
Looking to the future, the report recognises that public sector fraudsters are continually developing and refining the way they operate. An example of this is the recent upsurge in IT and Internet based crime. The Audit Commission is developing new techniques to combat high tech fraud including:
- developing computerised 'support tools' to review councils' and NHS trusts' systems for preventing fraud, that will highlight weak points
- developing more 'fraud probes' to address specific key risk areas
- extending the National Fraud initiative (NFI) - (see notes).
Andrew Wood, lead manager for the Audit Commission in Wales said:
'Fraud and corruption in public services cheats the taxpayer out of a substantial amount of money that should be used to improve council services and the NHS. The Audit Commission is committed to working with the national assembly and others to combat fraud in our public services. We are particularly keen to develop new, innovative and joined-up methods of working to combat the ever increasing incidence of high tech fraud.'
A number of related case studies are referred to in Appendix 1 of Ensuring Probity in the Public Services in Wales, including:
- Medical Locum Fraud
- Optician Fraud
- Hospitality in Local Government
- Local Reviews: Industrial Development; Housing Benefits; Contract Letting
NFI - National Fraud Initiative
The Audit Commission's National Fraud Initiative (NFI) is a computerised data matching exercise that uses powerful IT techniques to 'match' data about individuals. This data can be found on different computer systems and databases within councils and can lead to identifying incidences of fraud. The council can then investigate whether fraud is actually taking place.
The Audit Commission in Wales
The Audit Commission for local authorities and the NHS in England and Wales is an independent body established under the provisions of the Audit Commission Act 1998. Its duties are to appoint auditors to all local and health authorities and to help them bring about improvements in economy, efficiency and effectiveness directly through the audit process and through value for money studies.
The Audit Commission in Wales aims to be a driving force in the improvement of Welsh public services by promoting the proper stewardship of public finances and by helping councils and the NHS to deliver economic, efficient and effective services.
* Briefing Note( English language) File size: 208 Kb
The commission's main functions are:
- appointing auditors to Welsh councils and NHS bodies
- setting standards for those auditors and monitoring the quality of audits
- undertaking national studies to promote economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of services by local authorities and NHS bodies
- receiving and where appropriate following up information received from 'whistleblowers' in local government and NHS bodies under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
- Inspecting best value reviews produced by local authorities
- Working with Estyn on joint inspections of LEAs
- Working with CHI to review the work of NHS bodies