Anti-terror finance watchdog taps ‘advanced data analysis’

Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation – whose remit is to clamp down on funding for terrorism and hostile states – has signed a six-figure contract with a specialist AI and data firm

Government’s watchdog for clamping down on funding for terrorism and hostile states has signed a £400,000-plus deal to tap into advanced data analytics.

The Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) – which is part of HM Treasury – recently awarded a contract for “advanced data integration and analysis software “to specialist tech firm Bulien. The deal came into effect on 5 November and is intended to run for an initial period of 12 months – subject to the successful completion of an initial proof-of-concept exercises during the initial weeks of the engagement.

The text of the contract indicates that OFSI is seeking to implement “data enrichment and integration” software, as well as “visualisation and analysis” tools. The use of “automated analysis and AI capabilities” is an optional extra in which the unit is interested, according to the contract.

The background to the watchdog’s use of data analytics, and the technical detail of the technology and how it will be used, is redacted from the contract.

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But the document reveals the proof-of-concept phase will test the software’s ability to meet certain KPIs. Once this pilot has been converted into a full-scale rollout, “will be expected to continually improve the way in which the required services are to be delivered throughout the contract duration [and] should identify and present any new and beneficial ways of working to OFSI staff during review meetings”.

Up to £420,000 will be spent via the deal during its initial one-year term, and “OFSI is currently applying for funding to cover the potential continuation of service into a second year”.

While details of how and where the data tools will be used have been stripped out, the contract does provide some background operational information on the kind of work delivered by the unit.

“OFSI, which forms part of HM Treasury, implements financial and other sanctions in the UK,” it says. “OFSI has been operational since March 2016 and has quickly established itself as a world-leader in financial sanctions, a key area of financial, foreign and national security policy. It leads on the implementation of UN and UK financial sanctions and domestic terrorist asset freezing, providing a high-quality service to the private and charitable sectors, and guidance to help them follow the law. OFSI has important partner relationships in the regulated financial services sector and is an integral part of the sanctions community worldwide.”

Sam Trendall

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