Data and its use, through analytics, is coming under increasing criticism, and mostly undeserved. Data use, sharing, analytics, and even “data mining” is supported by a variety of sources to prevent fraud, including government fraud. We also know that public benefit fraud, waste, and abuse is big, and this fraud, waste, and abuse takes money away from people that really need it. A GAO report in 2021 on how data matching by government agencies can help direct taxpayer money away from fraud, waste, and abuse, and to consumers in need, by reminding us of the GAO’s earlier work in data use. The GAO noted in Feb. 2021 that
[d]ata analytics includes a variety of techniques to prevent and detect fraud, including data matching and data mining. According to GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework, data matching can help prevent and mitigate the risk of fraud occurring, uncover potential fraud once it has already occurred, after payments have been made, and assist programs in recovering these dollars. In addition to verifying initial eligibility, data matching can enable programs that provide ongoing benefits to identify changes in key information that could affect continued eligibility.
U.S. Gov’t Accountability Off., GAO-21-183, Federal Low-Income Programs: Use of Data to Verify Eligibility Varies Among Selected Programs and Opportunities Exist to Promote Additional Use, 14 (Feb. 2021).
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More