Senators Fire Shot Across Pentagon Bow on Audit Readiness

The Pentagon needs to get its books in order, a group of Republican and Democratic senators told Defense Secretary James Mattis in a letter.


The department, whose fiscal year 2017 budget stands at $582.7 billion, faces a September deadline to bring itself into compliance with a 25-year-old law requiring federal agencies to produce audited financial statements.

“At a time when military readiness and modernization require continued investments, DOD must reassure Congress and the American people that those investments will be properly managed. Clean audits inherently provide controls that guard against fraud, waste and abuse,” said Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others in the April 7 letter to Mattis.

The group noted that the Defense Department was the only federal agency covered by the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act yet to produce financial statements that received unqualified endorsements from auditors. The inability of the Pentagon to get its books in order is one of the main reasons the Government Accountability Office annually cites for being unable to sign off on the government’s yearly financial statement.

In the letter, the senators noted Sept. 30 is the deadline for audit compliance, a target set in the 2010 defense policy bill.

“We request the Department of Defense work diligently to fix the inadequate accounting systems that appear to make obtaining a clean audit unachievable, and that you are appropriately prepared to present a clean audit to the American people,” the senators said.