Data-driven Digital Innovation to Strengthen Integrity: TCU’s Payroll Oversight in Brazil

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Wetzel, Deborah;
Cartaxo, Fátima;
Poppi, Ricardo;
Nov 2022
This technical note documents the Continuous Payroll Audit Initiative within Brazils Court of Accounts (Tribunal de Contas da Unio, or TCU), presents its lessons learned, and makes recommendations that could improve its results. This initiative uses digital tools such as data analytics to proactively identify and address incorrect and/or illicit payments in the federal civil service and pension payroll. As of 2021, the initiative had led to savings close to $R 2 billion (US$515 million). The study demonstrates that a small team using the right technology can be very effective in rooting out irregularities in a complex system. However, technological innovation is not sufficient to address these issues. Broader systemic reforms in information collection and compliance are required for the system to fully achieve its goals. Given these results, this case could serve as reference for other supreme audit institutions around the world that are seeking to combat fraud and corruption.