At all levels of government, few topics are as highly charged as the problem of fraud. Generally defined as obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation, fraud affects a wide array of government programs and missions — entitlements, subsidies, loans, grants, procurement, compliance inspection, taxes, and more — and costs tens of billions of dollars annually. Citizens, legislators, auditors and government leaders alike often view fraud as a barometer of effective governance, accountability, financial stewardship and competence. Public-sector fraud also undermines government program effectiveness and mission accomplishment. As a result, protecting public assets from fraud and similar abuse is widely viewed as critical to building and maintaining public trust and confidence in government agencies.
There is another important reason for all levels of government to adopt effective approaches and capabilities for detecting and preventing fraud: constrained budgets. Mission effectiveness today means making every dollar count and lowering the prevalence of fraud is critical to achieving that. So it is no surprise that almost all (97.3 percent) of the 400 public-sector workers who responded to a recent GovLoop survey — underwritten by SAP Public Services— said fraud is an issue that government needs to address. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of respondents (78.5 percent) said fraud is a concern at their organizations.
For this research brief, we will examine how public sector professionals perceive the challenges and needs that exist in the fraud arena and then explore approaches to address those.