NSW govt ups first home owners grant fraud detection

New search capability could result in 100 percent detection rate

The NSW government will soon have a new weapon to combat fraudulent claims for the First Home Owners (FHO) grant

The NSW Office of State Revenue (OSR) has announced it is implementing a new online name and address search application, Informatica Identity Resolution (IIR), which will allow it to dramatically improve its detection rate on FHO grant fraud.

The application, which enables organisations to search and match identity data in batch and real time, will also see the OSR dramatically cut costs in its wider core business of collecting tax revenues and administering tax revenue law.

Ermil Sipp, deputy director operations strategy at OSR, said the government department previously struggled to track fraud in the grant scheme, largely due to its wide popularity.

“Due to the large volume of grants we were getting to assess, around 50,000 a year, it wasn’t possible for us to do 100 percent of fraud searches due to the cost involved,” he said. “As a result, we could only do searches on 25 percent of grant applications.”

According to Sipp, the previous process saw the OSR spend around $150,000 a year in database search fees to identify around 29 applicants who have had prior home ownership, and are therefore ineligible for the grant.

In light of this expense, the OSR has - over the last eight months - been working to develop a hard-coded search against its own Land Tax database to be used in conjunction with IIR.

With the two in place, the OSR expects to see a quadrupling in the department’s ability to identify whether applicants have fraudulently applied for the FHO grant, Sipp said.

“With the hard-coded match and IIR, we will be doing searches on 100 percent of applications and not pay $600,000 in search fees. We’ll have the potential to stop payment on a significant number of grant funds each year which we would otherwise have difficulty recovering once payment had been made.”

In addition to fighting FHO grant fraud, the OSR will use IIR in combination with work done on its own databases to cut $700,000 per year in search fees it pays to the Department of Land for use of its Land and Property Information database, Sipp said.

The OSR also expects to up the rate of additional revenue identification from its compliance activities, he said.

In 2002, revenue from compliance activities was around $146 million. In 2009 the figure was expected to be $256 million.

Sipp said the OSR would further look to implement IIR into its primary taxation system, Recoups, which was currently being re-architectured.

Doing this would enable the OSR to gain a more powerful name searching capability within the OSR’s own data mart which contained about eight state and ferdeal property databases, he said.

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