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Tribunal de Contas da União

Artificial Intelligence aids inspections on Covid-19 related purchases at the Federal Court of Accounts – Brazil (TCU)

Technology is making the inspection of publicly funded Covid-19 purchases more agile at the Federal Court of Accounts - Brazil (TCU). Robots track every day the federal government´s bids and contracts website (Comprasnet) and the daily Official publication in order to alert the Court's auditors about possible signs of irregularity in acquisitions related to the pandemic.
Por Secom TCU

 “Based on the crossing of data offered by the robots and the work of the TCU secretariats in the states, 22 representation and denunciation cases have been filed to check the regularity of purchases and acquisitions related to the Covid-19, since April,” says Tânia Pimenta, head of the Department of External Control - Government Procurement (Selog). The unit is one of the main users of the robots created at the Department of Information Management for the External Control (SGI). The total value of purchases related to these cases exceeds US $ 39 million.

The TCU invests in artificial intelligence due to its agility when it comes to detecting possible illicit acts. The SGI's work helps monitor public contracts related to Covid-19 in three ways, according to Head of the Unit, Wesley Vaz Silva. The first way is a daily automatic check performed by a robot in the daily Official publication of the Government to verify purchases related to Covid-19 allegedly not requiring holding a bid.

The second way is a case study on the suppliers in the context of the pandemic. The SGI has made a risk panel that analyzes these suppliers based on 12 rules. "If the company was created after the pandemic or if it has a politician as a shareholder, for example, there is a risk that the company will be favored when hiring or will not deliver what is demanded", comments Wesley.

Finally, specific alerts related to Covid are sent to Selog. The tool allows auditors to choose topics of interest for alerts, such as masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
The robots filter texts that deal with the coronavirus and cross information with a set of a hundred databases. Selog receives daily an extract of this data and decides on the necessary actions.

Auditors can ask public agencies for more information to further investigate particular contracts. An audit will be conducted if the auditors identify signs of irregularities regarding a specific purchase. In this case, the cases are filed and distributed to the minister-rapporteur responsible for the area of operation at the TCU Plenary.

 Examples of filed cases:

•    Contract in the amount of US $ 8.7 million, including prepayment for the purchase of 300 pulmonary ventilators in the state of Bahia.

•    Acquisition of medical and hospital supplies, in the state of Roraima, with an estimated value that reaches US $ 8 million.

•    Acquisition of a mechanical / electronic fan, in Ceará, in which equipment overpricing has been identified. Contract worth approximately US $ 4.1 million.

•    Acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE), in Rondônia, in the total amount of US $ 983 million.

•    Acquisition of PFF2 / N95 masks, in Tocantins, in the amount of US $ 536 thousand.






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