How effectively public sector fraud and error is tackled in Scotland will be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee as it undertakes its first ever piece of post-legislative scrutiny.
The Committee will focus on the sections of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 relating to the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) and will explore how the NFI has operated to date.
Since its introduction, the NFI has generated an estimated £110 million of outcomes for the public purse.
Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee Convener, Jenny Marra MSP, said:
“In this time of financial pressure, it is common sense for public bodies to share data to help deter and eliminate fraud, waste and corruption. It is therefore encouraging that the National Fraud Initiative seems to have been a real success story, delivering considerable benefits to the public purse in the last decade.
“I’m sure every taxpayer would want the NFI to work as effectively as possible and we will therefore examine whether there is scope for even better results.
“We will use our new powers to ask whether it should be compulsory for some or all public bodies to take part in the NFI and whether the legislation could be strengthened in any other way.”
The Committee will ask:
• What have been the benefits, financial and otherwise, of putting the National Fraud Initiative on a statutory footing?
• Could the legislation be strengthened in any way?
• Could participation in the National Fraud Initiative be improved? Are there any bodies who do not participate in the National Fraud Initiative who should do so?
The NFI is a counter-fraud exercise led by Audit Scotland. It uses computerised techniques to compare information which might suggest the existence of fraud or error.
The Committee has written to every public body in Scotland to ask them for their views and experience of taking part in the National Fraud Initiative. The deadline for submissions is Friday 31 March.
As stated in the Audit Scotland report, the outcome figures referred to include amounts for fraud and error detected and also an estimate for those future losses that have been prevented. Estimates are included where it is reasonable to assume that fraud, overpayments and error would have continued undetected without the NFI data matching.
The Committee webpage containing all information relating to this work can be read here.