TCU points to the need for data integration to protect the administration
The Federal Court of Accounts - Brazil has verified a series of indications of irregularities in data from governmental systems. With Minister Vital do Rêgo as rapporteur, the failures were identified through integrated analysis. The decision of TCU’s Full Court took place in a session on November 7, in Brasília (DF).
The purpose of the audit was to evaluate the integrated use of information in the management of public policies, in order to identify evidence of misuse of public resources. Another point of the analysis was the situations of potential conflict with the principles of public administration. The Court also investigated databases that have low-quality data. The work was based on the experience already gained by the TCU in audits based on data analysis and was inspired by similar international initiatives, in particular, the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) of the United Kingdom.
Altogether, crosschecks of data were performed that allowed the detection of more than 80 types of evidence of irregularities, which involved the analysis of 31 government databases, managed by 18 public organizations. The irregularities mentioned covered more than 450 thousand occurrences, corresponding to the use of public resources of approximately R$ 41 billion. The audit involved the following topics: public bids and contracts, voluntary transfers, budgetary and financial execution, Federal Government real estate, and granting of benefits to individuals and legal entities.
The crosschecks of data made it possible to verify evidence of irregularities such as Federal Government real estate invaded or unoccupied for a long time. Another failure pointed out concerns companies that have unduly benefited from benefits granted to micro-enterprises or small businesses. The TCU also found hiring of companies that belong to public servants of the very public agencies who were signing the contracts. The study found that there are beneficiaries of social programs that are members of companies with high share capital. The Court of Accounts also pointed to companies that enjoy tax benefits, but which pay wages higher than those allowed by law to their directors.
In addition to identifying isolated irregularities, the Federal Court of Accounts explored the combined analysis of the evidence, which identified several agents involved. They are people, companies or public organizations that have incurred in more than one type of misconduct. From this analysis, it was possible to detect that 2,320 agents had incurred in nine or more typologies.
Data crosschecks were also carried out to compare similar information stored in different government databases, which demonstrated that the lack of integration between the federal government's own systems makes it possible to have inconsistencies that could jeopardize the management of public policies and the analysis of the data itself. This analysis enabled, for example, the identification of citizens who are reported dead in one system but without a corresponding record in another system, which may result in the improper allocation of resources to dead persons. Altogether, we identified indications of more than 41 million inconsistent records in federal databases.
In his vote, the minister-rapporteur Vital do Rêgo argues that "initiatives of this nature should be part of the routine of detecting irregularities carried out by the bodies responsible for implementing government programs, but this is not the case in practice, mainly due to difficulties reported by managers in sharing the use of databases between federal agencies”.
Evidence of detected irregularities will be forwarded to the responsible bodies and entities for proper verification. The results will also be used to inform the planning of external control actions that will be executed by the TCU.
It was recommended to the Staff of the Presidency of the Republic to promote the integrated evaluation of management and public policies through a broad, intensive and shared use of government databases, seeking to overcome the current limits arising from sectoral and segmented visions of the use of State information.