Last night, the Senate unanimously approved legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct and pass full audits of its financial statements. The Department of Homeland Security Audit Requirement Target (DART) Act, S. 1998, was introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Scott Brown (R-Mass), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) last year. This month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it is audit-ready which means the agency was able to conduct a full-scope financial audit. However, the Department has yet to pass a complete financial audit.
"Improving basic financial management at the Department of Homeland Security, and in other major agencies like the Department of Defense, is more important now than ever," said Sen. Carper, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. "Clean, auditable financial statements can provide the roadmap we need to identify potential savings, avoid waste and fraud, and move towards a culture of thrift. This bill requires some very important, but straightforward steps that will ensure the Department of Homeland Security can pass a financial audit, and lays out a clear milestone requiring that the Department of Homeland Security reach a clean audit opinion by 2013. It is noteworthy that the Department has made some recent progress; this year, the Department has made an attempt to pass a full-scope audit. This is very good news. That leaves the important goal of now passing a financial audit. I believe that the Department is now heading in the right direction, and this legislation will lay out a clear and important goal and help establish the steps necessary to achieve it. I urge my colleagues in the House to follow the Senate's lead and pass this important bill quickly."
"It's long past time for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to face an audit and submit to the accountability that taxpayers deserve. The fact that they've avoided an audit for so long is ridiculous, especially since DHS has been labeled 'high risk' by the Government Accountability Office for eight years," said Sen. Brown. "With our national debt at a dangerous level, the federal government has to scrutinize its spending and hold itself to the highest standard of financial accountability."
"Initially stood up by 'consolidating' homeland security operations across government, the Department of Homeland Security has since exploded in size and scope," said Sen. Johnson. "With a budget of $31.1B in the year of its creation, 2003, its budget in FY2012 had almost doubled to $59.9B. The workforce increased by 56 percent from 107,513 employees in FY2003 to 167,808 in FY2011. The budget for overhead alone in FY2011 was more than $6B. DHS is in desperate need of a clean audit. Before coming to the Senate, I spent 31 years running a successful manufacturing company. I know the value of a complete audit of a company's operations. The bipartisan DART Act would institute this type of accountability by requiring preparation for a full clean audit of DHS by 2013. Once this work is complete, Congress should get down to the more serious work of eliminating inefficient, wasteful, and duplicative spending at the Department. I commend Senator Carper for his work on this very important issue."
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) continues to find that DHS financial management is at a high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. Passing a financial audit by 2013 is an important requirement that should be established by Congress. The Department of Defense (DOD) remains the only federal agency that is unable to conduct an audit.