Eight senators are asking Defense Secretary James Mattis to complete an audit of the Pentagon, something that was required by law more than 25 years ago.
“We write to direct your attention to the long overdue and failing Department of Defense (DOD) audit effort,” the senators led by Republican Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, wrote in letter sent Friday.
The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 required every agency to complete an audit by 1993, and the DOD is the only agency that hasn’t completed it. “This inability to account for expenditures does a disservice to the American taxpayer and threatens our national security,” the senators said.
Delays in the audit are usually attributed to the Pentagon’s outdated and broken bookkeeping system that can’t handle the hundreds billions of dollars spent every year. Pentagon departments don’t use a standard accounting system, but rely “on a tangle of thousands of disparate, obsolete, largely incompatible accounting and business-management systems,” some dating back to the 1970s, according to a Reuters investigation in 2013.
The senators ask Mattis to “work diligently to fix the inadequate accounting systems that appear to make obtaining a clean audit unachievable” in order to “provide controls that guard against fraud, waste and abuse” and “enable more efficient and effective spending on critical programs” and bring the Defense Department into compliance with the law.
The lack of a clean audit is again important as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks to increase the Pentagon’s budget to rebuild military readiness. (RELATED: Trump’s First Budget Promises To Beef Up National Security, Dramatically Cut Domestic Spending)
The Pentagon faces yet another audit deadline on Sept. 30, 2017, established by the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. “During your [Mattis’s] confirmation hearing, you committed to running a more efficient and transparent Department and to cooperate with Congress,” the senators said. “This gives us confidence that you will succeed where your predecessors have failed.”
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, also signed the letter.
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