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Tribunal de Contas da União

TCU invests in institutional partnerships, data analysis and the use of AI in the fight against corruption

By developing and integrating innovative initiatives, the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts strengthens internal control mechanisms and prevents deviations and irregularities in federal agencies and entities
Por Secom TCU

The Federal Court of Accounts (TCU – SAI Brazil) plays a key role in preventing and fighting corruption in Brazil. As an independent control body that monitors the management of public resources, the TCU invests in advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) and in institutional partnerships to ensure transparency, efficiency and legality in public administration.

It is worth noting that Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, with more than 8,500,000 square kilometers, and is a federal republic, with the indissoluble union of states (26 in all), municipalities (a total of 5,568) and the Federal District. In this way, power is divided among different autonomous entities, each with its own autonomy to legislate on specific issues. It also has three independent powers (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary) and various public bodies involved in the fight against corruption.

Because of the number of entities involved, fighting corruption is a difficult and challenging mission. In this complex scenario, the National Program for the Prevention of Corruption (PNPC) was implemented, which operates in a network and has a wide reach, making it an outstanding program and a promising anti-corruption tool.

The PNPC is a collaborative effort between the TCU and state and municipal institutions across the country. The program seeks to encourage Brazilian public organizations to adopt good practices to prevent and fight corruption. To this end, it carries out joint audits to assess the effectiveness of internal controls in government agencies. And through the tools provided, it is possible for institutions that join the program to identify risks and vulnerabilities, as well as receive corrective and preventive measures.

In addition to working in partnership with different institutions and internal bodies dedicated to fighting corruption, the TCU uses data analysis and artificial intelligence to fight corruption.

The use of advanced data analysis and AI in the fight against corruption

The TCU has used advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence to promote transparency and improve the effectiveness of auditing and monitoring procedures. To accomplish this, it uses a combination of innovative tools and continuous auditing methodologies.

To identify the risks of control activities, the TCU has, among other instruments, a platform called LabContas, which is structured through 80 public administration databases, a catalog of information, tools and solutions for the processing and analysis of data for the execution of external control activities.

Other important mechanisms include LabCor, which focuses on intelligence and anti-corruption actions, Alice (Public Tender, Contract and Bid Analyzer), a tool that automatically analyzes invitations for bid, and SAO (Budget Analysis System), a tool that automatically analyzes public works budgets.

In addition, the Court is currently working on a project that will use AI to integrate the use of structured data and information into the audit process, enabling more agile and efficient audits. The goal is to develop semi-automated reports and instructions, as well as generate extensive data for decision-making, focusing its efforts on the areas of greatest risk. This approach is intended to add value to society and streamline various phases of the audit process, while facilitating data-based analysis.

Map of Risk in Acquisitions System - Marina

Another example of the use of AI adopted by the TCU in the fight against corruption was the creation of the “Risk Map in Acquisitions” system (Marina), tested and validated in 2016 through analysis of acquisitions made between 2010 and 2015, which involved around R$ 345 billion in spending.

Marina provides a comprehensive view of the universe of federal public administration contracts and acquisitions, which allows for a more assertive selection of auditable objects with a greater risk of presenting irregularities.

The system assists the court in preventing the occurrence of corruption in public administration by surveying the risk associated with a contract based on signs of governance weaknesses on the part of the public manager, the existence of an atypical profile of the supplier and the possibility of favoring a specific company to be hired.

OpenGeoHub and Panoptes

The OpenGeoHub and Panoptes initiatives were developed by the TCU's technical team through the cooperation and funding of the Latin American and Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) and German Cooperation, through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The goal is to invest in and provide training in geotechnology for audit and inspection work.

OpenGeoHub is a project that OLACEFS has been working on since 2016 to develop the geospatial skills of employees at Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). The ongoing project will create develop assessment and prioritization techniques for each Conservation Unit and Indigenous Land in a given country.

In 2022, a pilot training course was held for TCU auditors, who received individualized mentoring, in the form of consultancy, to carry out their respective projects. The courses, both theoretical and practical, were tailored to the specific needs of each student and their project. As a result of the training, each project developed generated a product.

This year, the OLACEFS Training Committee (CCC), chaired by the TCU, has selected civil servants nominated by nine Latin American and Caribbean countries to take part in the OpenGeoHub Geocontrol Experts Training. The training is scheduled to take place between October and December. The students will develop projects on anthropogenic pressures (deforestation, degradation, fires, mining, among others) on public lands.

Panoptes aims at developing technology that allows SAIs to carry out continuous audits using satellites. From 2024, it will be possible to monitor territorial typologies. The concept of typologies in continuous audits is widely used in control. The innovation, in the case of Panoptes, will be the definition and development of a digital tool for monitoring territorial typologies. 

Both initiatives are complementary and form a proactive and comprehensive approach to control and auditing in the fight against corruption, which takes advantage of modern technologies to protect and promote the public interest.

Learn more about the National Corruption Prevention Program (PNPC)

The PNPC was created in 2020 as an initiative to encourage Brazilian public organizations to adopt good practices to prevent and fight corruption. Among the Program's actions are audits to assess the effectiveness of public agencies' internal controls, the identification of risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the proposal of corrective and preventive measures.

Organizations that join the PNPC have access to a system called e-Prevenção (“e-Prevention”) and must complete a questionnaire to self-assess the risk of exposure to fraud and corruption. Based on the final diagnosis, the system generates a roadmap for action, with the goal of reducing the risks encountered, with guidelines, minutes and technical support from the control bodies.

At the end of 2021, the first general evaluation of the PNPC was carried out. According to the findings, more than 82% of the country's public organizations have a level of exposure to corruption considered high or very high. At the federal level, considering the three branches of government and the Armed Forces, only 5% of organizations are at the acceptable level.

The program, which is the result of a partnership with the State Control Networks and the support of the Association of Members of the Brazilian Courts of Accounts (Atricon), also promotes the training of public servants, through courses and training, with the goal of disseminating good practices and knowledge about preventing and fighting corruption.

The program currently includes over 9,000 public administration organizations from the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary branches at the federal, state and municipal levels. 

Innovation, prevention and direct action with public managers

By acting on all these fronts, the TCU seeks to develop and integrate innovative initiatives, prioritizing the use of technology to ensure transparency and greater efficiency in the management of federal resources.  By acting rigorously and independently to prevent and fightcorruption, the TCU strengthens internal control mechanisms and inhibits the occurrence of deviations and irregularities in federal bodies and entities. The main objective is to avoid wasting public resources.

In addition, the TCU plays an important role in guiding managers through recommendations and technical guidance. When analyzing the accounts and processes of public bodies, flaws and weaknesses in internal control systems are identified, and the Court acts to identify the corrective measures.

In pre-audits of public tenders and contracts, the TCU also acts preventively. This prevents companies and public managers from acting fraudulently or in collusion, guaranteeing fair and transparent competition. 

It is important to note that the efficiency and continuous development of the work carried out by the Court are only possible thanks to partnerships and exchanges of knowledge with other public administration bodies and international organizations, such as the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU) - which is the Internal Control body of the Executive Branch - , the Federal Prosecution Office (MPF), the Federal Police, state and municipal courts of auditors (which carry out external control of public funds from states and municipalities), the Latin American and Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS), the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and many others.

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