Transparency and tech together can safeguard taxpayers’ money


(Credit, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Silvina Moschini, Co-founder, TransparentBusiness, Inc.

Fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayers’ money in government procurement is unfortunately far too common across the globe. In the US alone, the government spent $4.11 trillion in 2018, with $400 billion of that going directly to contracts for goods and services. It is impossible to know how much taxpayer money is wasted, but in one case the City of New York was overbilled $500 million for a municipal project.

Corruption is seen throughout the world. In a 2018 OECD survey, 42% of state owned enterprises (SOE) respondents reported that over the past three years, corrupt acts or other irregular practices occurred in their company. Given that SOEs comprise approximately 22% of the world’s largest companies, the significance of this fact cannot be understated.

Improper payments made in the US 2017.
Image: Government Accountability Office

With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, governments now have new and innovative tools that can make significant inroads into protecting taxpayers’ money and save millions of dollars at all levels – federal, state, city and municipalities.

Foremost consideration in this battle is transparency. By leveraging innovative technology platforms, the ability of governments to protect taxpayers’ money through transparency can become one of its greatest assets.

Transparency makes it possible for governments to hold contractors accountable, as well as provide its citizens with assurances that their money is being spent responsibly and not lost to fraud, waste and abuse.

When a company accepts a government contract to provide services for its citizens – whether that is to build a bridge, create an emergency system or provide legal counsel – it is their responsibility to undertake that work in a responsible and lawful manner. And taxpayers depend on their governments to make sure they do this rather than steal their money.

In the vast majority of the cases, that is exactly what happens. But history shows us time and again that government contractors will take advantage of this situation because they know, at the end of the day, it is more likely than not that the government who awarded the contract will in fact not hold them accountable. Often because they know the technology better than the government agencies and apply it more effectively.

The good news is, with advanced solutions now possible, those days are over. Through simple software programmes and other technologies, government agencies can now independently verify computer-based work done by its contractors and ensure public funds are not being wasted or lost through fraud or abuse.

In reality, the transparency achieved through technology can be applied to all aspects of government procurement, providing accountability across the entire process. This type of digital transformation in government procurement will instill good government policies that will protect taxpayers’ money simply through the independent verification of services delivered.

The fact is, there are a wide range of opportunities for fraud to be committed through the entire procurement process. At the same time, with today’s advancements, there are many ways technology can be applied to prevent this crime.

For instance, predictive models can be used to identify potentially fraudulent behaviour before it happens, and AI and machine learning can be leveraged for statistical analysis to reduce fraud. According to a March 2018 Forrester Report, several governments are already considering using blockchain networks as part of their efforts to strengthen their systems and prevention efforts.

Even as the people who commit fraud evolve and become more sophisticated, so too can government agencies by leveraging deep analytics, AI, blockchain and other technologies that can keep them ahead and prevent the loss of taxpayers’ money.

These programmes not only protect taxpayers, they increase efficiency for both the government and contractors, saving money that easily offsets their cost. They can also provide a host of other services and resources that can increase collaboration and identify potential problems much sooner than they can today.

What may be the greatest benefit of governments having their contractors use these types of programmes is that it will demonstrate to their citizens that they are holding contractors accountable; which, in turn, will only help gain their trust.

The IMF’s April 2019 Fiscal Monitor: Curbing Corruption calls for greater transparency as one of the most effective ways to fight fraud. “Invest in high levels of transparency and independent external scrutiny. This allows audit agencies and the public at large to provide effective oversight. For example, Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay are using an online platform that allows citizens to monitor the physical and financial progress of investment projects. Norway has developed a high standard of transparency to manage its natural resources.”

Taxpayers should expect nothing less. Through transparency and advanced technology, governments can make significant strides in ensuring that the electorate do get the work they paid for, and in turn, start to regain the public’s trust.






the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Closing VAT loopholes for sales through online platforms

Is Data Privacy really safe seen through Commissioner’s PRISM?

New UN finance panel to push Global Goals forward

Bias in AI is a real problem. Here’s what we should do about it

Growth is running out of steam. How do we prepare for the next crisis?

Mosul’s ‘3D contamination’ adds to challenges of deadly mine clearance work

FROM THE FIELD: Children in warzones denied right to education

UN chief condemns attack in south-west Iran which killed dozens

EU and US close to an agreement on data sharing amid European citizens’ concerns

South Africa’s economy in 5 charts

Health services for Syrian women caught up in war, foster safety and hope: UNFPA

As a rising global power, what is India’s vision for the world?

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

Joint UN-Congolese strategy needed to address insecurity following deadly attacks

Burnout is a pandemic. Why don’t we talk more about it?

IMF cuts global growth outlook, but predicts pick up later in 2019

Service and Sacrifice: Malaysian peacekeepers in Lebanon proud to serve their homeland and the United Nations

The financial sector cripples Eurozone growth prospects

Europe votes against GMOs but the Council votes for TTIP

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

To Brexit, or not to Brexit…rather not: 10 Downing Street, London

Single-use plastics: New EU rules to reduce marine litter

Young people struggling in digital world, finds latest OECD PISA survey

The 28 EU leaders unable to start a relevant debate on migration and Brexit

Independent UN rights experts call for ‘immediate investigation’ into alleged Bezos phone hack by Saudi Arabia

COP21 Breaking News_08 December: Cities & Regions Launch Major Five-Year Vision to Take Action on Climate Change

Most US students aren’t learning about climate change. Parents and teachers think they should

Boat made of recycled plastic and flip-flops inspires fight for cleaner seas along African coast

Syria: WHO appeals for funding to sustain critical health care for millions trapped by conflict

SDG progress ‘in danger’ of going backwards without change in direction, new UN report reveals

Eight years in, Syria still embroiled in conflict ‘that no longer sparks outrage’, Security Council hears

UN highlights need to solve growing burden of forcibly displaced Africans

UN calls for funds to ease ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian situation in Gaza and West Bank

4 ways blockchain will transform the mining and metals industry

Travel the world, find yourself

COP21 Breaking News_10 December:#ParisAgreement: Points that remain in suspense

European Parliament approves more transparency and efficiency in its internal rules

A young person’s perspective on the Paris and Beirut attacks and aftermath

It’s time we took a seat ‘at your table’: Guterres calls on world youth to keep leading climate emergency response

Virtual Doctor: a core part of modern healthcare?

On Brexit: the outcome of UK elections next May to be based on false promises?

10 reasons why today’s cyber leaders are tomorrow’s world leaders

Theresa May’s global Britain against Philip Hammond’s Brexit fog

South Sudan’s women caught up in ‘futile man’s war’ UN gender equality chief

Does the EU want GMOs and meat with hormones from the US?

A backbencher Tory MP threatens both EU and UK with a no-deal Brexit

Antitrust: Commission imposes interim measures on Broadcom in TV and modem chipset markets

Deutsche Bank: the next financial crisis is here and the lenders need €150 billion from taxpayers

12 ideas on how the private sector can help ensure universal healthcare access by 2030

Canada has the most comprehensive and elaborate migration system, but some challenges remain

Libya on verge of civil war, threatening ‘permanent division’, top UN official warns Security Council

Getting people with disabilities into work requires data

How ducks are helping Bangladeshi farmers cope with cyclones

Draghi: ECB to flood Eurozone and the world with more zero cost money; risk of drowning in cash

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus

Oh, well, you are wrong, Google responds to the European Commission

Poliomielitis: climatic changes and impossibility in border control

The horrific trend of the anti-vaccine movement in Turkey

EU prepares itself to fight back against hostile propaganda

European Commission launches infringement proceedings against the UK following its failure to name a candidate for EU Commissioner

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s