SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has improved its ability to detect and act against suspected fraudulent claims, while ensuring that genuine grant applications continue to benefit from good service standards.
In November last year, SSG set up an Inter-Agency Process Review Task Force to conduct a thorough review of its grant administration and fraud mitigation capabilities. This was overseen by the SSG Board, and comprised members from SSG management, the Accountant-General’s Department, Commercial Affairs Department and Ministry of Education. Several recommendations were made by the Task Force, and changes to systems and processes have been implemented, through organisational restructuring, enhanced data analytics and new enforcement strategies.
First, SSG has set up a dedicated fraud and enforcement division to manage fraud risk and enforcement. This allows for greater focus on the monitoring and detecting of suspicious claims, investigating the parties involved in such claims and taking the necessary enforcement actions. This also allows for a more focused and concerted development of system and staff capabilities to support SSG’s fraud mitigation efforts.
Second, SSG has partnered with GovTech and other private sector consultants to incorporate data analytics capabilities in its fraud detection system. Using historical claim patterns, machine learning algorithms were developed and incorporated to detect anomalies in claim submissions and highlight claims requiring further investigations. Through an iterative process, confirmed fraudulent claims are fed back into the algorithms to sharpen the system’s ability and speed to detect future fraudulent claims. Data is also being verified with other government agencies such as the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, to ensure its integrity. This strengthens SSG’s investigation of suspected fraudulent activities and expedites enforcement actions.
Third, SSG has adopted a range of enforcement strategies when handling potential abuse cases. Inquiries or site visits are conducted and immediate administrative actions are taken to withhold disbursement while investigations are taking place. Funding for training providers will be terminated as soon as a case of suspected fraud or abuse is established.
SSG continues to maintain a public whistle-blowing channel as part of its fraud risk management. Please refer to Annex A for a case study on a training provider identified through the whistle-blowing channel and claim analysis.
“With fraudsters devising increasingly elaborate scams, our fraud risk management system is evolving to better safeguard the funds earmarked for the skills development of our workforce. Specifically, we are making better use of technology and data to enhance our capabilities. Coupled with a firm enforcement stance, these measures will serve as a strong deterrent against potential abuse. We will not tolerate individuals and companies that abuse this system, and they will be severely dealt with,” said Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive of SSG.
“The Inter-Agency Process Review Task Force has made several recommendations to improve fraud detection and enforcement, following a thorough review of the previous processes. A holistic fraud risk management system supported by technology-aided continuous monitoring, and other anti-fraud measures will reduce the occurrence of fraudulent activities,” said Mr Wong Kim Yin, Chairman of the SSG Board.