National Foster Care Month recognizes those striving to give kids stable lives, and bright futures

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month as a way to recognize foster parents for opening their homes to and caring for children in need. This annual celebration has grown to generate awareness of foster care and a recognition of all involved. The children, foster parents, state and local government employees, private child caring providers, and the community at large are all important parts of the effort.

We have come a long way since 1988. Today there are more than 400,000 youth in foster care in the U.S., which represents a staggering 25% reduction in the just the past 10 years. In addition to the decrease in the number of children in foster care, we have the average length of stay has shrunk from 33 to 24 months.

This is a reflection of the sacrifice, dedication, and compassion of so many who have made working with foster youth their life’s mission. We also have to thank the many relatives that willingly accepted the additional burden of responsibility to love and nurture immediate and distant relatives. All involved in giving a young person hope and providing them with an opportunity to be successful in life are to be applauded.

Although there have been many improvements and successes, there is much work to be done to insure child safety and well-being for all youth. We must continue to innovate and seek out solutions that not only reduce the number of youth in foster care but focus on the quality of care for foster youth. The goal is to quickly place them in safe, stable, permanent situations.

The demand for loving families to accept the challenge to foster and/or adopt remains high. It has often been stated that if one family from each church in a state would adopt one child there would be no children awaiting permanent placement. Or, imagine the impact it would have if one family from each neighborhood in the United States became foster parents. What happened to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”?

The SAS State and Local Government practice is committed to working with state and local leaders to innovate and change the lives of children involved in the foster care system. We believe data and analysis can help those striving to find the most positive outcomes for kids, and we are dedicated to bringing awareness and support to this critical issue.

Our bloggers will continue to write about the different ways analytics could help at-risk kids. We would love to hear your thoughts on these topics and welcome comments.

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Spread the word! National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day highlights an ongoing crisis

Everyone loves a “mental health” day, one of those days when we get to relax and escape from the everyday worries and stresses of life.

Imagine the challenge of dealing with true mental health issues everyday – especially as a child or youth where mental health issues can cause isolation, challenge the ability to learn, and create everyday frustrations. Nearly 4 million children in the U.S. suffer from a broad range of serious mental health disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, autism, Tourette Syndrome, behavioral disorders, eating disorders, ADHD and others.

The outward signs of a disorder may change over time and can affect the child’s ability to learn and interact in school, create behaviors that inhibit healthy play, and impact friendships and family dynamics. Children with mental disorders may have problems handling emotions appropriately. Even so, these mental disorders can be difficult to diagnose and may not be correctly identified until school or teen-age years.

Without diagnoses and treatment, these conditions can interfere with healthy development and can have long-term impact during youth and adulthood.

Youth mental disorder sidebar-KayMeyer

May 7, 2015 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – a day focused on the importance of raising awareness about children’s mental health and showing that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

Why is this issue so critical to our nation?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths 15-24 years of age and more than 90% of adolescents who have committed suicide have struggled with a mental health disorder. States spend nearly $1 billion annually on suicide and suicide attempts by youths.

Nearly 50% of students who suffer from a mental disorder drop out of school before completing high school. A rate higher than any other group with a disability.

And unfortunately, youth with mental disorders and those who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, are more likely to end up in juvenile detention. Estimates indicate that 65-75% of youths in juvenile detention suffer from one or more mental disorders. These youths need treatment rather than incarceration to provide the best chance at positive futures.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration marks the 10th annual National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day with a series of events nationwide as well as opportunities for young adults to share their experiences with mental health issues, their resilience and their positive outcomes.

What can you do to spread awareness?

Mental health is a social issue that impacts all of us – from the costs of addressing the challenge to the social impact on our communities to, most importantly, the well-being and positive futures of our children. The SAS State and Local Government practice is committed to being a tireless force for the welfare of children. We recognize that improving the lives of children with mental disorders requires the input and collaboration of many individuals and organizations – families, friends, educators, healthcare providers, treatment programs and community and government leaders. We believe data and analysis can help provide insight and tools for those striving to find the most positive outcomes for our children and youth and we are dedicated to finding ways to bring awareness and support to this critical issue.

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What can we learn about at-risk kids to create more positive child welfare outcomes?

“What we do to our children they will do to society.”

Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder said that more than 2,000 years ago, and it’s just as true today. In 2013, more than 600,000 children in the US were confirmed victims of maltreatment in the home, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.

Source: The State of America’s Children – Children’s Defense Fund

Source: The State of America’s Children – Children’s Defense Fund

Of course, this does not account for the thousands, even millions, of unreported cases. What toll will this take on our society in the future?

I’ve taken a keen interest in child welfare, and as I’ve talked to leaders in child protective services departments and those in the trenches, it’s become very personal for me. This week, I am at the Child Welfare League of America 2015 National Conference to learn more about how that organization gives a powerful voice to the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

I have challenged my team to become a tireless force for child welfare. We know that the data exists for us to apply analytics to know more about the factors and relationships that lead to positive and negative outcomes for kids.

This requires government to take a longitudinal view of data and focus efforts where kids are most affected. And it should be a focus on quality, in areas such as education, health care (physical and mental), social programs and public safety.

Government tends to look at cost first. If we improve quality, cost improvements will follow. This will be in the forms of reduced recidivism, higher employment, fewer people on public assistance and better public services and safety.

Social workers on the front lines have such an important job and need our help

Even if things improve, child protective services workers will remain in the thick of the battle to save our kids. I recently met with a director of a county department of social services who impressed me greatly.

He told me his case workers want to be able to do what they learned in school. They want to take care of the kids and keep them safe. However, regulatory requirements and large caseloads make it difficult.  For instance, it would be helpful to have more information at their fingertips such as:

  • If a child is absent from school frequently
  • If they’ve changed schools multiple times
  • If a trauma assessment’s been done as a result of something in their current environment
  • If a current caregiver has a criminal background

Any and all of these could be indicative of an increase risk to a child.

The director says he would like as many data points as appropriate, governed by strict privacy and data sharing rules. Repeat maltreatments are all too common, and he believes helpful data would be found in areas such as juvenile justice, health care/pharmacy, education, absenteeism and a caregiver’s criminal history.

In addition, he’s worried about what happens to foster kids that age out. He would like to know which kids are at highest risk of aging out without finding a permanent home; and he’d like to know what happened to them. Did they end up in prison? Are they parents of the small kids now in his system? Or did they get good jobs and are thriving?

The data is out there to address his concerns and answer his questions. It’s there to help us save children, and put thousands more on paths to positive outcomes. I’m committed to helping this happen, and I will share more on this topic in the future.



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Imprisoned for tax fraud, the Phantom Preparer tells his story

Tax fraud…5-7 years in prison. I thought I had it all figured out. The government wades through millions of returns and tries to issue refunds quickly. Sure, I filed over a thousand for my clients, but that’s just a blip on their radar. I never thought I’d get caught. But I did, and as the evidence was presented at my trial it became clear that I underestimated the Department of Revenue, and their technology.

Since I’m already enjoying the hospitality of the state prison system, I may as well tell you my story. I’m the Phantom Preparer. I hatched what I thought was a low risk tax fraud scheme that netted me over a hundred thousand dollars. After two months bunking with a cell mate who bathes infrequently and talks to spiders, I can tell you…it wasn’t worth it.

It's a simple scheme. I would claim fake credits or large (overstated) deductions for my clients to get them huge refunds. I would take a cut, and everyone was happy. Maybe they knew something was fishy, maybe not. They sure didn’t complain about the windfall. And as word got around that I could score big refund checks, my clientele grew.

The problem is, more clients equals more data. And that’s like candy to sophisticated fraud analytics. As exhibit after exhibit was trotted out by the prosecutor, I got pretty sick of seeing that SAS logo pop up. SAS Analytics uncovered patterns that led investigators to my door.

Upon further review, that does look a little suspicious.

Upon further review, that does look a little suspicious.

I submitted more than 1,400 returns, all online, over three years. I never filled out the Preparer Tax Identification Number field, thus my secret identity as the Phantom Preparer. I figured with all the returns flooding in, who’s gonna notice? Right… Unfortunately, all those empty fields create a pattern.

You know what else is a red flag for DoR investigators? When someone goes from years of claiming little to no deductions to claiming more than $45,000.  More than 90% of my filed returns claimed refunds. In retrospect, I may have gotten a bit greedy. $10,000 in interest expenses? Sure! $12,000 in job-related expenses? OK!

I didn’t think they’d compare past years to the current claims. It just seemed like too much information to wade through. Not so much, I guess.

Also, all those returns were filed online from the same IP address. Mine. Whoops.

Not only that, at my trial they showed something called “geoboxing”. Basically, it was my house on an aerial map…surrounded by a cluster of the addresses on the fraudulent claims, and wouldn’t you know it? I was at the intersection of Tax Fraud Lane and Up The River Court. Lots of my neighbors were clients.

You can see my house from here!

You can see my house from here!

Unfortunately, investigators could also see a dozen of my clients' houses.

Unfortunately, investigators could also see a dozen of my clients' houses.









When the prosecutor was building their case, they even went back and matched the timing of the filings to my calendar. So, say I met with Bill Smith at 1:00pm on Feb. 20. Bill Smith’s return was filed an hour later. By itself, not a problem, but when that same pattern repeats over hundreds of meetings and fraudulent filings…uh-oh.

So, the evidence was overwhelming and I copped a plea. With good behavior I may be out in four years. I guess I’m not the Phantom Preparer anymore. I’m just Prisoner #4976113.


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Someone's trying to steal your tax refund... better call the math geeks!

Judging by the spike in media coverage of tax fraud, one might think accountants have suddenly been inspired by Breaking Bad re-runs, and turned en masse to lives of crime.

Umm… no. But, there are two good reasons for all the attention.

Source: 401(k) 2012,

Source: 401(k) 2012,

One reason is because of a new law – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. This law requires non-US banks to disclose financial information to the IRS for accounts held by US citizens.

Why the fuss over an arcane-sounding law? The IRS is cracking down on wealthy citizens who hide their income in off-shore accounts. And they’ve had some high-profile successes. Take the case of Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank headquartered in Zurich. They were fined $2.6 billion for helping Americans to evade US tax obligations.

That makes for good headlines. But, it doesn’t fully explain the abundance of press coverage.

The other reason for the media attention is something that impacts most Americans directly. Fraudsters are plotting and scheming to steal your tax refund.

Huh?! How can someone steal your refund, when it is deposited directly into your bank account? Here’s how the scheme works:

  • A fraudster steals information about you. They don’t need a lot of information – just a few data points like name and Social Security number. If they are good, the fraudster might find out your employer’s name, too.
  • Next, the fraudster creates a fake tax return. He makes up an income amount, maybe even adds a few deductions or credits. He also creates a fake W2 that makes it seem like you had taxes withheld from your paycheck throughout the year.
  • Magically, the fake return always ends up with a refund balance.
  • Finally – and the key to the whole scheme – the fraudster submits the return electronically, and asks for a direct deposit of the refund. He provides a bank routing number for an account he controls. In a few days, the money gets deposited. The fraudster withdraws the money and disappears.

You’ve just been scammed.

No one realizes there’s a problem, until you try to submit your valid tax return. Your return gets rejected, and you are left to fight to get your (valid) refund.

This scheme is known as Stolen Identity Refund Fraud – or SIRF. It is plaguing taxpayers and governments across the US.

Government officials have battled tax refund fraud for many years. What’s different now is that a mix of technology, globalization, and identity theft are making it much easier for the bad guys to cheat the system.

Innovative government leaders are not sitting idly as this problem grows. Several innovative states are revolutionizing the fraud-fighting tools they use to tackle this challenge.

The Department of Revenue in a southern state uses highly sophisticated analytics to catch tax cheats. Their analytical models are similar to what banks and credit card companies are using to stop financial fraud – techniques such as anomaly detection, predictive modeling, and link analysis.

When a new tax return is filed, this state looks to see if there is an unusual change in circumstances from your previous returns. Same address? Same employer? Same general financial circumstance? Your return is assigned a low risk score and processed immediately. That’s the easy part.

The hard part comes when there are differences. About 12% of Americans move to a new address in a given year. The average American stays at a given job for only 4.4 years. It’s perfectly normal for people to get promotions and raises… get married… have children… all events that can have a material impact on what your report on your tax return.

Analytics make these hard decisions easier. This state is able to figure out which changes are part of everyday, normal life… and which ones are unusual and may indicate someone is trying to steal your refund.

Suddenly stopped claiming your 3 kids as deductions? That’s odd. Reporting wages from a company that is no longer in business? Seems strange. Your new bank routing number is for a bank based in Nigeria? Or Russia? A return with these types of anomalies is assigned a high risk score. Some such returns are rejected automatically. For others, the Department of Revenue contacts the taxpayer to see if the return is valid.

Analytics are helping protect taxpayers from SIRF. And, they are helping speed up payment of valid refunds. That’s a classic case of good government at work. Every state should harness the power of math to protect and serve its citizens.

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Analytics can ease the burden on social workers & help protect kids

March is national Social Work Month and this year the National Association of Social Workers celebrates its 60th anniversary of facilitating positive social changes and improving the lives of individuals and families.

Social work is a profession that considers the needs of others every day. Individuals who dedicate themselves to a career in social work focus their time and effort on the quality of life and well-being of families, children and others in need. Social workers support society’s most vulnerable during times of crisis, poverty, abuse, mental and physical disability, and social injustice. It is a noble profession that is often overlooked and under-appreciated.

Many data sources can help improve outcomes for kids (click to enlarge)

Many data sources can help improve outcomes for kids (click to enlarge)

Case workers across our country, specifically those working with child abuse and neglect cases, often face significant challenges in protecting the children in their care. The headlines are tragic and the statistics are startling. 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect are filed in the US every year – nearly a report every 10 seconds and more than four children die every day as a result of child abuse.

Case workers are confronted with overwhelming caseloads and limited access to critical information about the children in their care. With limited resources, it becomes difficult to monitor ever-changing circumstances related to a case and to proactively identify changes in a child’s risk.   Case workers need better tools and more timely access to information to help them assess children and family situations and make decisions based on comprehensive information.

A key focus area of the SAS State and Local Government Practice this year is a commitment to improving positive outcomes for children throughout the nation. We are focusing technology efforts on minimizing negative outcomes and maximizing positive outcomes for children.

SAS technology integrates data from a variety of sources to consolidate information about a child and identify key relationships in the child’s environment. This produces an overall risk score for the child. Those data sources are monitored for changes that might affect a child’s risk score such as extended absences from school, criminal history of someone in the household, or changes in access to key social services.

The goal is to put critical insights into the hands of case workers – providing them with ready access to timely, reliable, and actionable information. It reduces the time case workers need to spend gathering data and enables more time interacting with children and their families. Organization leadership gains better insight into their case portfolio enabling better triage, assignment and resource allocation to improve the management and outcomes of their child services cases.

Social workers who protect our most vulnerable face enormous challenges every day. SAS is committed to supporting their efforts in improving the lives of these children.

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Better government data sharing reduces costs, improves services

For Parent’s Weekend this year, I needed to choose a restaurant for dinner in my son’s college town. Our extended family was attending the college football game and spending the weekend with our son. Before making my decision, I searched the internet for all the restaurants located within a reasonable distance from where we were staying.

I read reviews to see what other people thought of the quality of the food and service. I visited each website and scanned the menus to be sure there were choices that would suit the tastes of some of our “more selective” family members. And finally, I checked for reservation availability for our party.

All this information just to decide where to eat dinner!

Information is everywhere. As consumers we want as much information as possible to make all kinds of decisions.

Governing Big Data white paper

As citizens, we would like to think that our government takes the same approach – using all information available to make the best decisions for all types of government operations. Unfortunately, in many cases the operational, tactical and strategic decisions made in government are not based on all of the information that might be pertinent to the situation.

Government is no newcomer to Big Data – governments have been collecting and generating vast amounts of data for years. Unfortunately, government information systems have historically been built in silos where data from one government function is held separate from data for other government functions.

Through the years, a culture of data ownership rather than data stewardship has evolved. The perceived obligation to control and protect an organization’s data has impeded the ability and willingness to share information across the government enterprise – even when these data assets are critical to improved decisions and services to the public.

In the instances where data is being shared, it is often duplicated, transmitted, interpreted and stored multiple times – oftentimes undermining the reliability, consistency, timeliness, and security of the data. The result is redundant data and inefficient decision making.

The good news is that government is increasingly focused on evidence based decisions and using data in new and better ways. The vision and strategy for enterprise data sharing and analytics can help government ensure that data is used as a strategic asset to improve business decisions. Better government data sharing and use of data can help:

  • Improve government efficiencies by reducing fraud, waste, and abuse
  • Better manage assets, identify and forecast trends and costs of major government expenditures like healthcare and education;
  • Improve citizen services by gaining more complete information about their needs and streamlining their interactions with government;
  • Reduce costs through improved workflows, effective compliance efforts and avoidance of redundant systems and data stores.

To better understand the challenges and value of enterprise analytics, join us for Governing magazine’s Big Data Driving Big Results across the Government Enterprise webinar on April 2, 2014.

The webinar will explore the challenges and opportunities associated with improved government data sharing and enterprise analytics and will focus on:

  • Strategies to identify and unlock the benefits of information sharing within and between agencies
  • How the state of Michigan deployed Big Data to drive hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost savings and provide better service to constituents
  • Best practices to analyze and share data from case studies in North Carolina and Michigan
  • A new approach to managing data independently from IT

Governing magazine’s white paper Managing Data across the Government Enterprise: A Resource Guide for Integrating Data to Support Analytics-Based Decision-Making provides additional background information and case studies exploring the topic of enterprise analytics.




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Using analytics to build pathways from K-12 to careers

42-50717757Public educators have increasingly been told to produce the “workforce of the future.” States are striving for alignment between what students learn and the jobs that ultimately will be available to them. This alignment is critical for students so they have the right skills and knowledge to excel at college and/or the vocation of their choice. It is equally important for the economic vitality of our communities to minimize unemployment, turnover, and reduce training costs for businesses.

Achieving education-workforce alignment requires coordination across many disparate organizations, including K-12, Higher Ed, government agencies, business and industry, all of which have many moving parts. It requires having a factual base to ground conversations regarding: what has happened; what is happening; and what is most likely to happen next?

Many agree with this notion at a high-level, but what does it look like on the ground? An expert panel will discuss how they put these ideas into practice at the SxSWEdu conference in Austin, TX. This panel will present perspectives from state education agencies (SEAs), a school district, and a higher education system on how analytics and data visualization are used to help educators (at all levels) better support students on the path to college and career.

First, Layla Bonnot from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) will share insights gleaned from working with SEAs across the country on CCSSO’s Education Information Management Advisory Consortium. Most states have used federal grant funding and invested local dollars in building State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDSs) that span Pre-K through college, and even into workforce data. SLDSs are expected to answer research questions, evaluate programs, and drive policy decisions. Given the large investment in these SLDSs, the stakes have never been higher to begin using these data for education-workforce alignment. Some states have struggled, while others have made notable progress. Layla Bonnot will highlight common success factors in states leveraging data and analytics to inform these policy advancements.

Next, Lubbock Independent School District’s Associate Superintendent, Doyle Vogler, will provide a K-12 perspective. Lubbock ISD is an urban district in West Texas serving almost 30,000 students. The district has experienced sizeable demographic shifts over the last 10 years, and consequently, has had to devote additional resources to meet the diverse needs of its changing student population. Mr. Vogler will discuss how Lubbock’s educators use predictive analytics and data visualization to assess the academic preparedness of incoming students and implement targeted supports to build the college and the workplace pipelines.

Lastly, University of Louisiana System’s President, Dr. Sandra Woodley, will offer the postsecondary perspective on workplace preparation. Job growth is expected to accelerate sharply in Louisiana over the next 10 years, which is welcome news, but new jobs will require highly-trained and educated workers—many more than the public education system can currently provide. Dr. Woodley will share the strategic framework used by her team to focus their work and discuss how they built a coalition of legislators, government agencies and businesses to support the development of a ‘talent marketplace’ to arm students with better information about job prerequisites and opportunities. Her team also created an ‘analytical hub’ to provide administrators and policy makers dynamic visualizations on the flow of students, dollars and outcomes.

These three speakers will address challenges and learnings around the introduction and use of analytics to support educators. They will identify keys to successful collaboration among organizations with similar college and career readiness missions. And they will explore how analytics can be used by educators to better serve students through targeted supports. If you are able to attend the innovative SxSWEdu conference, you will not want to miss this session. If you cannot make it, I will post a recording of this session as a follow-up on this blog. Come back to check it out!

UPDATE: The recorded session is now available!

Also be sure check out our friends in SAS Curriculum Pathways' who are participating in panel discussions at SXSWedu.

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Not in my Backyard! North Carolina is Tackling Government Fraud

Many states are starting to crack down on the serious abuses of government programs, cutting down on outright fraud as well as reducing abuses and errors.  I wanted to highlight one of those, now that they've been on this path for a few years.

North Carolina, where SAS is headquartered, is taking an enterprise approach to analytics, with fraud prevention a key plank in their approach.  Towards this end, they've formed a Government Data Analytics Center, known as GDAC.  GDAC offers a centralized repository that has pulled in data from many different sources in order to help analytics and fraud prevention across many programs and agencies.  Included data ranges from incorporation data from the Secretary of State to driver and vehicle licensing data from the DMV, workers' compensation coverage to unemployment claims and tax filings.  Use of data is restricted to appropriate programs based on the law and data sharing controls.

So what is this approach doing for the citizens of North Carolina?  It's helping to target those businesses that are taking advantage of systems by filing false claims, or avoiding business obligations, undercutting legitimate competitors.  While all the results aren't in yet, this approach, built on the underpinnings of the SAS Fraud Framework, has already started to pay off and gain some positive media attention for the state.

In recent years, the issues of employee misclassification and the underground economy have resulted in law changes, task forces and media attention in North Carolina.  It's also a subject I've covered in recent posts.  The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) has responded, using GDAC to target businesses that illegally cancel their workers' compensation policies, while continuing to employ workers.  Their system is known as Noncompliant Employer Tracking System, or NETS.  Starting with initial sweeps in counties to target employers, they jumped out to a good start last summer, as covered here, and continue to expand efforts and results.

One of NCIC's partners in these efforts is the Department of Commerce's Division of Employment Security (DES).  DES oversees the unemployment insurance program for North Carolina, and is actively tackling both claims and tax fraud.  An interesting new twist to unemployment fraud that involves both of those areas is fake businesses set up solely to drive false unemployment claims through, which I addressed recently in a post that touched on schemes of unemployment fraud.

DES has been using GDAC and focused investigations to take down 105 fake employers statewide, with 672 fake unemployment claims associated.  Some of the vacant businesses were using vacant lots as their address, and one even used the local television station!  Far be it from me to say, but that may not be the best way to stay under the radar.

This operation is paying off big.  Savings from prevented payments alone hit $5.2 million.  An additional $2.5 million in fraudulent payments is targeted for recovery.  Beyond that, I expect a series of criminal charges to follow.

This approach works, and preventing payments from going out the door is the best way to stop fraud against government and the citizens and business that pay taxes.  Kudos to North Carolina, and kudos to everyone working on GDAC and at the agencies using it to improve results for citizens.  They are speaking up loud and clear and saying "Not in my backyard!".

Want to join the conversation? Add a comment.  Care to follow other fraud news? Follow me on Twitter @carlhammersburg

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Analytics making a difference in tax fraud: Kentucky protects taxpayer money, uncovers fraud schemes

According to a 2012 report, it was estimated that over the next five years the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will issue more than $20 billion in potentially fraudulent tax refunds. Figures like this do little to boost taxpayers’ confidence in our nation’s tax system.

And tax fraud is not just an IRS issue. States coast to coast are facing similar circumstances. Plagued with identity theft, shrinking budgets and heightened pressure to pay returns quickly, states are having a difficult time cracking down on tax fraud offenders.

Kentucky is stepping up efforts to improve detection of individual income tax compliance issues and save taxpayers’ money, with help from SAS.

“Our job is not just to collect taxes, but to get taxpayers the money they are owed as quickly as possible. The increasing amount of fraud and abuse puts an even greater responsibility on us to be diligent in our efforts. Analytics helps with that,” said Mack Gillim, Executive Director of the Office of Processing and Enforcement for the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Tax returns that come into the Commonwealth are scored on a nightly basis and any potential issues are flagged for examiners to review the following day. This quick turnaround process is key to the Commonwealth team as they try to get refund checks out to their taxpayers within 14 days.

The department is committed to serving citizens promptly, but that expedience makes it even more critical to be able to quickly spot suspicious returns. Diligent examiners come in first thing in the morning, assess the flagged returns and immediately start investigations.

Using SAS hosted fraud-fighting technology, the Commonwealth’s Department of Revenue has uncovered several fraud schemes. It’s a constant battle for government agencies to keep up with the evolving schemes of dedicated fraudsters. I can’t share all the red flags and anomalies KY DoR looks for as it could help fraudsters adjust their schemes. I can, however, tell you that the metrics have been invaluable in identifying trends that otherwise may have gone unnoticed for a much longer period of time.

As responsible stewards of taxpayer money, the Kentucky Department of Revenue’s use of analytics is making a difference in their vigilant stand against fraud.

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