The prevention of fraud and abuse of the social welfare system is a very important element of the work of the Department. One of the most effective and efficient ways of targeting cases for review is to electronically match data from other relevant Government Departments and public bodies against the Department's computer systems. The purpose of this is to identify people who may be claiming a social welfare payment to which they are not entitled.
In carrying out these data matching exercises, the Department is very mindful of its responsibilities to protect the rights and privacy of individuals in accordance with the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (see DSP Data Protection Policy). Requests for bulk data are only made where the information is required and in strict compliance with relevant legislation. Detailed operational Guidelines on this matter have issued to staff in the Department and are summarised here. These Guidelines were produced following consultation with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.