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How UWV can catch fraudsters using KPIs
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How UWV can catch fraudsters using KPIs

When I hear the news about benefit fraud by Polish workers, I am amazed. Especially when you see how ineffective the UWV is in combating it. It is high time for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that actually work.

The current affairs program Nieuwsuur recently revealed that large numbers of Polish labor migrants are committing fraud with unemployment benefits. Polish individuals who are dismissed from their jobs in the Netherlands after more than six months of work can apply for unemployment benefits (WW). However, a requirement for receiving these benefits is that they must reside and actively seek employment in the country. Many of them, however, return to Poland for vacation or work, submit fake job applications, and still receive Dutch unemployment benefits. This widespread fraud is facilitated in part by dubious accounting firms.

The journalistic investigation by Nieuwsuur also shows that the management of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) has been aware of this fraud for years but has failed to stop it through structural measures. According to employees, insufficient action has been taken on fraud signals. Employees responsible for handling the unemployment benefit cases also point to significant production pressure as a cause for the inadequate fraud prevention. They claim that they are expected to process unemployment benefit applications quickly, and time-consuming fraud investigations could hinder them in meeting their targets. As a result, they tend to turn a blind eye to many cases.

Big organization

Irritation and astonishment compete for my attention when it comes to this news. Why does fraud at an employee insurance implementation agency not receive priority? Stealing money is wrong, especially when it is taken from funds intended for people in need. How is it possible that in such a large organization, there is a lack of sufficient time or resources allocated to combat fraud? And why is time pressure an issue when it comes to processing unemployment benefit applications, especially during times of decreasing unemployment rates?

From the reporting by Nieuwsuur, it is evident that the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) has clear areas for improvement. It can be inferred from the news that employees feel that the management does not listen well. This should never happen, even when you have 20,000 employees. Another aspect that could be improved is the unilateral focus on production targets. According to employees, when granting unemployment benefits, the UWV primarily emphasizes production and timeliness. However, the UWV should also prioritize quality, especially when it comes to something as important as unemployment benefits. This means that the UWV should also focus on ensuring the rightful allocation of benefits. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to achieving organizational goals and are important for customers — people who genuinely deserve benefits—should always take precedence over departmental KPIs. If this is not the case, employees may engage in activities that only appear good on paper. This is a common mistake when using KPIs, targets, and incentives, not only at the UWV.

The greatest breakthrough can be achieved by subordinating departmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to the chain-wide KPIs.

Peter Geleen – iPM Partners


The Board of Directors of the UWV can quickly bring about improvements in the situation. According to the reports, they will engage in discussions with the ministry to find a solution. However, I believe that they can largely handle this themselves. The greatest breakthrough can be achieved by making departmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) subordinate to the chain-wide KPIs. All KPIs should contribute to the timely and rightful allocation (and disbursement) of unemployment benefits at an acceptable cost level. Production-related KPIs within a department are indeed relevant, but they should always be evaluated within the set of KPIs that also include quality monitoring and have a clear impact on the chain-wide KPIs.

Combating fraud

What the UWV is struggling with is the balance between IT and human resources. After the crisis, thousands of people left the organization, and this had to be compensated for with IT. However, it seems that technology can be used more effectively. For example, the UWV could free up time for employees by robotizing the allocation of benefits (Robotic Process Automation – RPA). They can also use big data to detect potential cases of fraud. Once the benefits are being granted, it should be possible to determine whether individuals are actually residing in the Netherlands. The insurance industry has been using big data for fraud detection and successfully linking files for many years.

By implementing robotic process automation and utilizing big data for fraud detection, the UWV can free up more time. This allows employees to handle unemployment benefit applications in a more customer-friendly manner and identify more potential fraud cases. Especially when combined with a chain-oriented approach and the right set of KPIs. Moreover, employees are encouraged to maximize their own potential and contribute to the team. This way, not only can fraud be combated effectively, but the work also becomes more enjoyable for employees!

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