National Fraud Initiative
NIFRS is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) audits the accounts of NIFRS and as such is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises for the purpose of assisting in the prevention and detection of fraud under statutory powers contained in Articles 4A to 4H of the Audit and Accountability (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 as inserted by the Serious Crime Act 2007.
Data matching involves comparing records held by the same or another body to see how far they match.
The data exchanged may contain personal information and the use of the data by the C&AG in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority.
Article 6(1) of the General Data Protection Regulations (2018) and Section 8 of the Data Protection Act 2018 provide the legal basis for processing personal data under the National Fraud Initiative – specifically, it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in exercise of the data controller’s official authority. As such, the sharing of information does not require the consent of the individuals concerned.
Computerised data matching allows fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found, it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
NIFRS is required by the C&AG to participate in a data matching exercise and provide particular sets of data for matching. Details are set out in the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) website www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/NFI.
Data matching by the C&AG is subject to a Code of Practice which may be found at www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/Code of Practice.
For further information on the legal powers of C&AG and the reasons for matching particular information, see the Privacy Notice on the NIAO website at www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/Privacy Notice.
For further information on data matching at NIFRS, contact Edel Downey, Business Assurance Manager on 028 9266 4221.