Big data technology helps China's Guizhou fight corruption

Guizhou has built several big data systems that oversee the use of public funds, the work on poverty alleviation and public wellbeing, in an effort to combat corruption.

The discipline inspection and supervision authority of Longan County in southwest China's Guizhou Province discovered that a public vehicle had been running between two towns for 23 consecutive days.

An investigation showed that the chief of Dushan Town's committee of Communist Party of China, surnamed Chen, used the vehicle for private purposes. Chen received a warning from the Party and returned 6,900 yuan (US$1,012) for fuel costs.

In recent years, Guizhou has built several big data systems that oversee the use of public funds, the work on poverty alleviation and public wellbeing, and Party building, in an effort to combat corruption.

Armed with big data technology, discipline inspectors of Guizhou can find clues of graft behaviors easier and earlier.

In February, officials of the discipline inspection and supervision authority of Longli County found via the big data system that the county's health bureau had spent over 150,000 yuan of public funds on office supplies and issued an alert.

Later investigation showed that Luo Xianqin, then head of the bureau, used part of the funds to purchase drinks, for which Luo was given a warning from the Party.

"Before we use the system, we had to find clues of misuse of public funds on our own and many of the clues were missed," said Yan Wanping, head of the provincial department of finance.

"The system makes our jobs clearer and easier," Yan said, adding that the system sent 684 alerts of possible misuse of public funds in the first half of the year, involving nearly 14 million yuan.

To discover graft problems more directly, the government has made information of funds related to people's lives accessible to people across the province.

People of Qianxinan Buyi and Miao autonomous prefecture now can see the information via the Internet or through the more than 1,100 big data terminals that are located on the doorstep of all hospitals, residents' service centers and village committees.

Residents can use the terminals to look up the preferential policies they enjoy and the amount of subsidies they receive with a swipe of their ID card.

Earlier this year, a villager surnamed Xiong of Songba village, Liuzhi Special District, checked his pension insurance on a terminal and found that his mother, who had passed away two years prior, was still "receiving" pension insurance.

Xiong reported this issue to the district discipline inspection and supervision authority. After checking the system, the authority found Li Zhuo, a former staff member for social security of the village, had fraudulently claimed the pension insurance. Li received a warning from the Party.

"A total of 550 million items of data related to funds for public wellbeing have been collected by the system in the first half of the year," said Shen Chuan, an official of the provincial discipline inspection and supervision.

"Among the 550 million items of data, more than 275,000 were found problematic, which led to 6,934 violations. To date, we have filed 186 cases and retrieved 6.15 million yuan in cash," Shen said.

The systems also serve as a deterrence for those whose misconduct has not yet been uncovered.

Having watched residents use the terminals for over ten days, deputy head of Guangzhao Town's social security bureau surnamed Chen, was terrified. Feeling as if someone was "poking at his heart," he finally chose to turn himself into the discipline inspectors.

"We should make full use of big data technology in our work to make discipline inspection and supervision more targeted," said Xia Hongmin, chief of the CPC Guizhou provincial commission for discipline inspection.

Guizhou will continue to build a supervision network that is ubiquitous both online and offline, Xia said.

Special Reports