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A report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) discussed methods in which oversight and law enforcement agencies use data analytics to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse.  The key themes in the report were noted from a recent forum with the GAO, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.  The participants in the forum relayed challenges in accessing and using available data and sharing data, including:

  • Lack of awareness from oversight and law enforcement entities of available data;
  • Few incentives for program offices to develop information technology systems to support data analysis by oversight and law enforcement entities;
  • Difficulty in measuring success of fraud prevention efforts;
  • Statutory requirements that impede agencies from performing data matching to detect fraud, waste, and abuse;
  • Lack of uniform data standards across agencies; and
  • Legislative barriers that make it difficult to share data across federal, state, and local government agencies.

The participants also noted some opportunities for sharing data, such as:

  • Consolidating data and analytics operations in one location;
  • Developing short-turnaround projects that emphasize the value of data analytics; and
  • Government sharing of open-source analytic tools and techniques.

 The participants discussed next steps for improving data analytics, which include forming a consolidated directory of data sources to expand awareness, as well  a library of open-source data analytics, modules, and tools.  Additionally, the participants suggested an ongoing practice of assessing challenges and barriers for data analytics, and whether changes would be useful to the work of oversight and law enforcement agencies.

The GAO report on data analytics is available at:

Government Accountability Office.  “Data Analytics for Oversight & Law Enforcement.”  GAO-13-680SP.  30 Aug. 2013.

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