During a Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) renewed her call for top Pentagon officials to continue their efforts to achieve audit readiness by 2014. With the nation facing a fiscal crisis and looming defense cuts, Senator Ayotte stressed the need for the Department of Defense (DoD) to closely scrutinize spending and distinguish areas where appropriate reductions can be made without harming warfighters or military readiness. Undersecretary of Defense Robert F. Hale, the comptroller and chief financial officer for DoD, was among the witnesses who testified at today's hearing on financial management at DoD.
"With a $1.3 trillion deficit, we cannot accept the status quo with respect to DoD or anywhere in our federal government," said Senator Ayotte. "With at least $487 billion and up to $1 trillion in defense reductions being implemented over the next decade, we cannot afford to do without the reliable financial management data needed to help us distinguish between defense budget cuts that are necessary and those that may endanger our national security."
Senator Ayotte authored an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would have required the Pentagon to complete a full statement of budget resources by September 30, 2014. While the amendment unanimously passed the Senate, it was not included in the final bill. Echoing a letter she sent this week to Armed Services Committee leaders, Senator Ayotte today renewed her call for a statutory requirement that the Pentagon achieve audit readiness by 2014. In today's hearing, Senator Ayotte credited Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for making financial management a top DoD priority. The Pentagon remains only one of two cabinet-level departments that are not prepared to undergo an audit.