Transparency and tech together can safeguard taxpayers’ money

taxations

(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.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

Summer pause gives time to rethink Eurozone’s problems

UN and partners appeal for $920 million to meet ‘dire needs’ of Rohingya refugees

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

Better ID card security to curb document fraud

Monday’s Daily Brief: biodiversity and forests, labour and road safety, women’s rights, and fallen UN staff remembered

The European Parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg (Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro)

EU Parliament sends controversial copyright law reform back to discussion

Industrial products: Lifting the last impediments in the EU single market

EU and New Zealand launch trade negotiations

Four major resources for new European young entrepreneurs

Digital development: technology-enabled, but human-centric

This is what the gender pay gap looks like in eight countries

The Stray

Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

Global Talent – Professional Internships

It’s just electronic cigarette, don’t worry?

What next for Europe? Three (completely) different Davos views

UN chief welcomes re-opening of key Gaza border crossing

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

Japan should reform retirement policies to meet challenge of ageing workforce

Facts and prejudices about work

“No labels for entrepreneurs!”, a young business leader from Italy cries out

Electronic Cigarettes: Are they really as safe as we think?

TTIP’s 11th round major takeaways and the usual “leaked” document

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

UN rights chief slams ‘unconscionable’ US border policy of separating migrant children from parents

Why this city is paying people to move there

The remote doctor, can it ever work?

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

These are the fastest trains in the world

1 in 4 Africans had to pay a bribe to access public services last year

Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on the table of NATO Defense Ministers amid US concerns

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

3 things to know about India’s space programme

Rising insecurity in Central Africa Republic threatens wider region, Security Council told

EU and Australia launch talks for a broad trade agreement

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is the moment for climate justice”, Swedish MEP Linnéa Engström claims from Brussels

Parliament toughens its position on banking union

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Central banking in times of complexity

Climate change: ‘A moral, ethical and economic imperative’ to slow global warming say UN leaders, calling for more action

Draghi’s 2018 compromise: enough money printing to revive inflation and check euro ascent

Nordic noir: The unhappiness epidemic affecting young people in the world’s happiest countries

Trump blocks US warmongers from bombing Iran

Trump ostracized by his party and world elites but still remains in course; how can he do it?

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for smaller businesses to get financing through capital markets

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

MEPs criticise “America first” policy

An economist explains why women are paid less

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature

Job vacancy data reveal better prospects for Britain, stagnation in Eurozone

Commission adopts €4 billion investment package for infrastructure projects across 10 Member States

EU fundamental rights under threat in several member states

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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