Centrelink Program Data Matching Activities

Data matching is one of the key controls used by the Department of Human Services (department) to manage the risk of fraud and non-compliance.

Data Matching

The department defines its data matching activity as the process of bringing together data from an external source with its own data for comparison.

The department is legally authorised to conduct data matching activities, and deals with all personal  information it holds in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and relevant secrecy provisions in program legislation. The department notifies recipients of data matching in its Privacy Policy, as required under Australian Privacy Principle 1. 

The department seeks to deliver payments and services in the most efficient and effective manner possible, including taking appropriate steps to ensure program integrity. This includes conducting regular data matching activities to ensure that payments made by the department are accurate and made in accordance with the law.

The department works collaboratively with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to ensure that its data matching systems and practices are appropriate.

When conducting data matching activities which do not involve matching Tax File Numbers (TFNs), the department adheres to the Australian Information Commissioner's Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration (Data Matching Guidelines), which are issued under section 28(1)(a) of the Privacy Act. Compliance with these Guidelines is not mandatory, but is considered to be best privacy practice.

Protocols

Following is a summary of the key data matching activities conducted by the department in relation to Centrelink compliance programs.

Pay As You Go (PAYG) Data Matching

The department formally commenced its PAYG data matching activities in 2004, following a pilot that was commenced in 2001.

This data matching activity does not involve the matching of TFNs, with the department operating in accordance with the Data Matching Guidelines.

The department developed a program protocol for this activity in 2004, when the department commenced receiving the PAYG data file from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The process for this data matching activity has not changed since 2004. The original program protocol for PAYG data matching was implemented in 2004 following consultation with OAIC.

The 2004 program protocol was recently revised to reflect changes made in 2017 to include changes to the names of applicable privacy principles and data-matching guidelines; changes to the name of relevant entities, such as Centrelink to DHS; changes to DHS business processes; technological changes; and other minor changes.  The Data Matching Guidelines contemplate that protocols will be reviewed and updated as necessary. The updated protocol took effect in April 2017.

Copies of the 2004 and 2017 protocols:

Non-Employment Income Data-Matching (NEIDM)

The NEIDM measure was developed in 2016 to better address a compliance risk which is only partly dealt with by the department’s PAYG data matching activity. In particular, the NEIDM measure allows the department to data match on non-employment related income reported to the ATO (which may include income received by independent contractors or income obtained through investments).

As with PAYG data matching, the department conducts NEIDM in accordance with the Data Matching Guidelines. The department developed a program protocol for the NEIDM measure in August 2016, in consultation with OAIC.

The Data-matching Program (DMP)

In 1991, the department commenced data matching activities which involved the matching of TFNs under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 (DMP Act). Those activities have been conducted in accordance with the DMP Act, and the Data-Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 Guidelines (statutory data-matching guidelines) issued under the DMP Act.

Reports

These reports provide progress information on our Data-matching Program.

Data-matching information for the 2010-11 financial year can be found in the Centrelink Annual Report.

2007-10

2008-09

2007-08

2004-07

Page last updated: 27 August 2017