Centrelink has been given a green light to spend $71 million on IT systems to combat welfare fraud in the 2010 Federal Budget, handed down overnight.
The agency - which also scored $14.7 million for a virtualisation project and $8 million for a Shared Services initiative from the ICT savings of its agency peers on Budget night - will engage in a four year project in partnership with Australian law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem.
"Welfare cheats cost the Australian Government millions of dollars every year and those who deliberately engage in fraudulent activity will be tracked down and prosecuted," said Human Services Minister, Chris Bowen.
"Funding will go towards IT systems developments to enable Centrelink to work more effectively with law enforcement agencies and intelligence sources, as well as staff including investigators to implement the measure."
The Government expects to reduce fraud and fraudulent claims by an estimated $127.6 million over the four year life of the project.
Targeting 'organised crime'
Bowen said that the systems were required primarily to protect social welfare payments from "fraud associated with organised crime".
The Australian Crime Commission was said to have "identified that organised criminal groups use the social welfare system as an income stream and to establish a legitimate cover for criminal activities such as drug importations, fraud, money laundering and firearms trafficking."
"Organised crime represents a significant threat to the welfare system," Bowen said.
The Government also announced $24 million of funding over four years for the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) to develop "advanced analytical systems" to combat money laundering and organised crime.