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Philadelphia City Controller Crowdsources Fraud Detection
The City of Philadelphia has a lot of problems, fiscally. We aren't suffering from the budgetary woes that are showing up other places, mostly because we're not afraid to raise taxes, but the services bangs for our tax bucks are sometimes not where we'd like them to be. This is due in part to the fact that Philly is a patronage city, in the old school east coast meaning of the word. There are also programs that operate less efficiently than they should (or are officially assumed to), programs that seemed like a good idea at the time but have since proven otherwise (like the thing where we pay city administrators to retire, then hire them back on), and in some cases as in any system this complex, we've got straight up fraud and abuse.
The person tasked with finding and fixing our fiscal issues is this guy;
And so far in his two terms as controller he's done a pretty good job. He and his office have routed out fraudulent overtime claims from city contractors that had apparently been routinely filed since at least the Nixon administration. They also cracked the whip and finally got our (privately operated) ambulance corps running efficiently and with some degree of speed. And now he's out after absentee landlords that aren't keeping up their lots. There are a lot of wins on this guy's record.
His office has produced an Iphone app that lets citizens report perceived fraud instantly. Complete with photo-upload capability, GPS tracking, etc. I don't have an IPhone or IPad, or any internet phone for that matter, so I can't really say how user friendly it is.
What do we think, D&D? Is this the future of combating fraud? Or is this just going to turn into a way to troll the government with thousands of false reports that they must then follow up on? How much good is this sort of crowdsourcing when it comes to government responsibility? Obviously, citizen reports are already a big part of identifying fraud. Is this going to make citizens more likely to do so? Are we all going to have one of these apps for our locality in 5 years?