While continuing her fight to prevent across-the-board defense sequestration cuts set to begin in January that Secretary of Defense Panetta has described as "devastating," U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is also working diligently to find responsible savings and improve financial stewardship at the Pentagon. She announced today that she is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation aimed at requiring the Department of Defense to undergo a financial audit.
The "Audit the Pentagon Act," introduced this week by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), includes incentives and enforcement mechanisms to encourage the Pentagon to achieve audit readiness. The Pentagon's inability to be audited limits its capacity to successfully implement management controls and efficiency initiatives, achieve savings, and redirect increasingly scarce defense dollars to higher priorities.
"With our $16 trillion national debt, we must scrutinize spending at every federal agency - including the Pentagon. Every wasted defense dollar is a dollar we deprive our warfighters who protect our country," said Senator Ayotte. "Furthermore, if defense sequestration cuts take effect in January, it will be even more critical for the Department of Defense to have reliable financial data."
Since arriving in the Senate, Senator Ayotte has pushed for an expedited and full audit of the Pentagon - believing that to distinguish between necessary defense budget cuts and cuts that would harm our troops and damage military readiness, the Defense Department must have reliable financial data and effective business processes and systems in place. Earlier this year, building on similar efforts in 2011, Senator Ayotte successfully included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2013 defense authorization bill that was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee that would require the Pentagon to ensure the statement of budgetary resources is validated as ready for audit by September 2014. The defense bill has not yet been considered by the full Senate.
In addition to pushing for an audit, Senator Ayotte successfully passed legislation last year that helped save over $1 billion by allowing the Air Force to retire aircraft it doesn't need. She has also worked to reform DOD acquisition processes and to eliminate funding for weapons systems that our troops will never use.