Federal agencies may use commercial data services in conducting program integrity activities designed to identify fraud and improper payments, which pose a significant risk to the integrity of federal programs. For example, federal agencies may obtain commercial data—subject to applicable laws and protections—that identifies individuals’ deaths, income and assets, or other information that may help the agency determine whether individuals or entities are eligible for a government program or benefit.
Officials from selected federal agencies told GAO that using commercial data services can help their agencies improve the efficiency of program integrity activities. For example, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials told GAO that using commercial data service providers to provide web and phone-based services to help authenticate certain taxpayer’s identities likely allowed their staff to focus on other work rather than deal with large volumes of in-person requests for identity authentication. Commercial data services can also provide federal agencies access to private sector data, such as bank deposit information, that is not available from federal government sources. This financial information may help agencies to determine whether individuals have income from work or assets that indicate they are not eligible for certain programs, such as disability programs.
FedScoop: Audit: How some agencies are using commercial data servicesRead the full report