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Ministry welcomes Auditor General's report

18 June 2008

Media release
For immediate release

Ministry welcomes Auditor General's report

The Ministry of Social Development today welcomed the Office of the Auditor General's positive assessment of the Ministry's benefit fraud systems.

The audit report, tabled in Parliament today, found the Ministry has strong and effective systems, policies and procedures in place to detect, investigate and prevent fraud. It also found that staff are playing a key role through their approach to integrity and quality.

''I am pleased the auditor general's findings confirms the Ministry's systems are working well and recognises the progress we have made and the improvements we are putting in place,'' said Hilary Reynolds, Ministry of Social Development Deputy Chief Executive.

''There is always a balance to be achieved between a social welfare system that is accessible to New Zealanders who need our help and support, while being protected against the small number of people who seek to abuse and steal from the system.

"However with an annual expenditure of $15 billion on social security payments, it is crucial the Ministry continues to develop and improve its systems. Recent innovations include more data mining programmes and a dedicated intelligence unit with a focus on current and future fraud trends, including identity related crimes.

"The Ministry has also steadily increased its data matching activity in recent years to improve its ability to ensure full and correct entitlement and to detect and prevent fraud. We have increased our collaboration with other government agencies involved with fraud detection while work is also underway now to improve the Ministry's IT systems that support the recovery of fraud debts.

"The Ministry takes a serious approach to fraud. It follows up every instance where fraud is suspected, pursues recovery of all money that has been overpaid, and prosecutes where appropriate. Today's report confirms the Ministry is doing good work on benefit fraud and continues to move forward," concluded Hilary Reynolds.


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