National fraud initiative – data matching


Government departments are required by law to protect the public funds they administer. They may share information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds in order to prevent and detect fraud.

The Comptroller and Auditor General audits departmental accounts and is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises under his powers in Articles 4A to 4G of the Audit and Accountability (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there may be an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.

The Comptroller and Auditor General currently requires departments to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud which entails providing particular sets of data to the Comptroller and Auditor General for matching. Details are set out in the Northern Ireland Audit Office’s website.

The use of data by the Comptroller and Auditor General in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority.  

Data matching by the Comptroller and Auditor General is subject to a Code of Practice.

For further information on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s legal powers and the reasons why he matches particular information, visit the National Fraud Intiative pages of the NI Audit office website.

For further information on data matching please contact the relevant department.

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