Economic assistance provides a safety net for vulnerable citizens. How could the Government of Odisha ensure that it was allocating benefits to the people who needed them the most?
The organization used IBM Analytics solutions to match claimant records to corresponding tax, income and property records—identifying around 500,000 individuals who were wrongfully claiming benefits.
Ensuresthat vital benefits go to citizens who are truly in need
500,000wrongful claimants identified and removed from the system
Savescosts and effort, helping the government make the best use of its resources
Business challenge story
Tackling welfare fraud
The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department of the Government of Odisha offers a lifeline for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens; its subsidies help to ensure that people living below the poverty line have access to adequate food and other household necessities.
With hundreds of thousands of cases to manage every year, the Department found it challenging to ensure that its benefits were being directed to citizens who were truly in need.
A spokesperson from the Government of Odisha explains: “Most of our benefits claimants truly need our support to make ends meet, but unfortunately there are always individuals who will try to abuse the system. For instance, some people would under-report their income and claim benefits that they were not really eligible for, while others would use multiple ID cards to claim benefits more than once.
“These kinds of fraud divert valuable government resources away from the citizens who needed them the most—and we wanted to put a stop to it. The problem was that we lacked an efficient way of confirming claimants’ eligibility for welfare assistance.
“In the past, our best option was to hire external investigators to visit claimants and check on their circumstances, but this was too expensive and time-consuming to apply on a larger scale. We realized that if we wanted to stamp out benefits fraud, we needed to find a smarter way to work. And that’s where IBM came in.”
New insight into benefits claimants
In a first-of-its-kind project in India’s government sector, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department used a suite of IBM Information Management solutions to unify citizen data from multiple systems of record, and analyze it to determine which citizens were making wrongful claims.
Over the course of three years, the project team gathered approximately 45 million records from dozens of government offices, including files such as driver’s licenses, electricity bills, income tax returns and pension statements. IBM® InfoSphere® DataStage was used to build reliable, repeatable processes to extract, transform and load this data from the source systems, while IBM InfoSphere QualityStage helped to identify and remediate data quality issues with individual records.
Once all the data has been brought together and stored in a central IBM DB2® database, the solution uses IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management Standard Edition to compare the records from each system, use a probabilistic matching engine to identify records that belong to the same person, and link them to a single “master record” for each citizen.
“The IBM solution provides sophisticated matching algorithms that help us create a single view of each citizen’s income and property, and compare this against our welfare claimant data to identify potential cases of fraud,” recalls a spokesperson. “For instance, if the records show that an individual owns a car or a house, receives a large pension or pays at least a modest amount of income tax, then it means they aren’t living below the poverty line and are not eligible to claim benefits.”
Looking beyond the welfare system, better information management has the potential to enhance citizen services on a much broader level. With a standardized, centralized store of citizen data, other government departments stand to gain a much more accurate and comprehensive view of citizens, which they can use to drive more efficient and responsive citizen-centric services.
Shaping smarter social assistance
With the new solutions in place, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department has a much faster, accurate and effective way of identifying fraudulent welfare claims.
“IBM Analytics have completely changed the way that we work,” says a spokesperson. “Today, we can catch fraudsters almost immediately. With the new system, 60 percent of records that previously would have required investigation are flagged up automatically, which means there’s much less need for us to hire investigators to go home-to-home to check up on claimants. This is delivering big administrative cost savings, which we can re-direct to other initiatives.”
The solution also helps to improve ongoing fraud detection, as a spokesperson explains: “When someone attempts to register for this welfare program, the system automatically checks their records and, if they do not meet the eligibility criteria, their application will be rejected. By taking a proactive approach, and stopping fraudsters before they even get into the system, we are saving significant effort and resources.”
Most importantly, the new approach is helping to ensure that the right benefits go to the right people.
A spokesperson concludes: “Since introducing IBM Analytics solutions, we have detected around 500,000 wrongful welfare claimants and have removed them from our program. Now, the benefits that they were unjustly receiving can be used to support genuinely needy people instead. We are ensuring that deserving citizens get the help they need, while keeping tighter control over welfare costs and making better use of taxpayer money—it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
“This project is the first of its kind in the Indian government sector, and we are proud to be leading the way and showing what is possible with a modern approach to master data management. We look forward to helping our colleagues in other departments and from other states learn how they can benefit from these technologies too.”
About Government of Odisha
The Government of Odisha provides civic services to residents of Odisha state through numerous agencies and departments. Its Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, located in Bhubneshwar, India, provides government assistance to citizens in need.
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