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The effectiveness of payroll system in the public sector to prevent fraud

Zulkarnain Yusuf (Malaysian Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Anuar Nawawi (Faculty of Accountancy, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia)
Ahmad Saiful Azlin Puteh Salin (Faculty of Accountancy, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Perak Branch Tapah Campus, Tapah, Malaysia)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 18 June 2020

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023




The purpose of this paper is as follows: first, to analyze the opinion of the civil servant or payroll personnel towards the payroll system that currently used by the government. Second, to investigate the control measures currently exist in the payroll system and third, to examine any loopholes that may create opportunities for fraud to occur in that payroll system.


This study involves a survey of questionnaires to the department’s personnel that act as respondents. One government department has been selected as a case study in this research. This study was focussing on the payroll administration unit that responsible for all personnel payroll operation and administration.


The study concludes that payroll system has equipped with the security and control characteristic. However, there is still a risk of fraud due to some internal control weaknesses in the system. Thus, the awareness about the control and security of the system should be given priority so that the staffs will understand and aware about it.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides some evidence to indicate a weak and ineffective control measure in the payroll system that may lead to the fraud. Thus, by detail examination of the problems, the prevention and corrective action can be done in combating fraud. However, this study suffered from the small number of samples and limited access to the relevant documents due to confidentiality of the data.

Practical implications

This study reveals that there are a few key internal control points that can be enhanced to facilitate better protection of payroll expenses in combating fraud in the government department. These include clear segregation of duties, stricter approval process and highly protected personnel information. In addition, adoption of whistleblowing channel, established internal audit function and severe punishment to the wrongdoers also can be implemented.


This study is original as it examines fraud and malpractices issues that specific for payroll department in the government department that rare in literature.



Yusuf, Z., Nawawi, A. and Salin, A.S.A.P. (2023), "The effectiveness of payroll system in the public sector to prevent fraud", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 404-419.



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