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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise in support of S. 1998, the DART Act, introduced by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. This important legislation will improve financial accountability and management at the Department of Homeland Security.
Since the Department opened its doors on March 1, 2003, financial management of all 22 merged agencies has been one of the most significant challenges. Fiscal year 2012, over 9 years since DHS was created, was the first time the Department was able to complete a financial audit and receive a qualified opinion on all five financial statements covering the entire Department.
Unfortunately, DHS has been unable to get an unqualified, or clean, opinion stating that there are no material weaknesses in its financial systems. Until such time as there is confidence in the DHS financial structure, questions will remain on how DHS accounts for taxpayer money. This important legislation is needed because it will require the Department to create a plan to meet the audit requirements to reach an unqualified opinion.
Specifically, the bill requires the Secretary to take all necessary steps to ensure that all financial statements of the Department are consolidated and ready in a timely manner in preparation for an audit.
Second, the DHS CFO is to report to Congress on its efforts to reach an unqualified opinion. This legislation requires this reporting requirement until such time as the Department is able to reach an unqualified opinion.
Also, DHS is to report to Congress on its progress, including resources needed, plans to eliminate material weaknesses, deadlines for addressing deficiencies, and efforts to modernize DHS' financial management systems.
It is essential that DHS obtain control over its financial systems and address the identified weaknesses. This legislation sets the Department on the right path to obtain an unqualified opinion.
I would also like to thank Chairman Issa and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for working with the Committee on Homeland Security in getting this important legislation to the floor.
I urge my colleagues to support S. 1998 and reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would like to thank Senator Brown for introducing this legislation to address the ongoing DHS financial management challenges. Also, let me thank the ranking member, Mr. Thompson, and the ranking member of the subcommittee, Ms. Jackson Lee, for their kind words. This probably will be my last appearance on the floor as chairman of the committee.
I want to thank the ranking member. It has now been over 7 years we have worked together as chairman and ranking member. I enjoyed working with you. I enjoyed it a lot more when I was chairman, and I'm sure you enjoyed it a lot more when you were chairman. But no matter what our capacities were, I always found it a privilege to be able to work with you. When we could cooperate, we did. When we had honest differences, I think we expressed them in a very gentlemanly way. I certainly know that you did, and I want to thank you for that.
I want to also thank the committee staff, especially Mike Russell, Mandy Bowers, and Kerry Ann Watkins, for the tremendous job they did, and all the members of the staff of both the majority and the minority. And, Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you for your years of service in the House here as well.
Again, it's been a great privilege being chairman. I believe we achieved a lot. I think most importantly what the ranking member has tried to do and what I've tried to do is establish the significance of this committee and to prove that on major issues affecting the country, that both parties can work together in a bipartisan way. And I thank the gentleman for his cooperation on that.
Going back to business, I urge support of the bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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