Logotype The Swedish NAO

Difficult to assure quality of population registration

The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that the Swedish Tax Agency's work to maintain quality in population registration is not conducted effectively. This increases the risk of various types of welfare crime.

People on the street.

Photo: Jenny Gaulitz

Audit background

The aim of population registration is to meet national needs for basic population data. The data in the register is used for instance to show where the individual should be taxed as a basis for payments from the welfare system and social planning. Incorrect data in the population register may have a number of negative consequences for society. The Swedish Tax Agency's work to maintain quality in the register thus plays a very important role.

The data in the population register is continually updated and the quality work is associated with several challenges. One example is that the address data in the register is dependent on citizens’ own reporting of changes, at the same time as problems in the housing market and a reduced need for physical mail may diminish the incentive to contribute to high quality levels in the population register. The increasing number of moves to and from Sweden also imply increased risk of errors in the population register. Apart from this, there are incentives to report in incorrect data to the population register to be able to commit various types of crime.

Purpose and delimitations

In view of the important role population registration plays in society and the challenge of maintaining quality in the register, the purpose of this audit is to investigate whether the Swedish Tax Agency conducts the work of maintaining quality in population registration effectively. In this context quality refers to correctness of the data in the register.

When designing the audit several delimitations were made. To start with, the definition above of quality means that processing time, consistent assessments and other questions related to processing cases are not included. The question of coordination numbers is not addressed in the audit, since the responsibility for ensuring that these numbers are correct is spread among several agencies. Nor are the management of protected identities and issuing identity cards included in the audit.

Implementation

The Swedish NAO notes that quality requirements for population registration are high and that quality work should concentrate on the errors that have the most serious consequences for society. In view of this, it is noted in the audit that several conditions must be fulfilled to enable effective quality work. In the first place, there must be sufficient knowledge of the errors in the register and their consequences to be able to create a risk analysis that can show the types of error that should be given priority. Appropriate methods and tools for finding and dealing with errors are also necessary.

The supporting material for assessing whether the conditions for effectiveness are fulfilled mainly consist of interviews with the Swedish Tax Agency and some agencies that are frequent users of the register. This is supplemented by operational statistics, reports and other types of document from the Swedish Tax Agency. The audit also comments on several of the proposals made by Lars-Erik Lövdén’s inquiry concerning qualified welfare crime (Swedish Government Official Reports SOU 2017:37).

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 05 April 2018

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