U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement today after the Senate this week approved provisions of their "Audit the Pentagon Act" (S. 3487) within the Defense Authorization Bill (S. 3254). The Senate agreed to the amendment, #3237, which pressures the Department of Defense to produce financial audits and provides consequences in the event of noncompliance.
"Forcing the Pentagon to pass an audit is the law and will both strengthen our national defense and our economy. Achieving a clean financial audit will free up existing resources for national security. I'm pleased our colleagues agree and included key auditing provisions with the defense authorization act," Dr. Coburn said, noting that the United States Marine Corps recently reported that "for each $1 spent on financial improvement, an estimated $2.77 in value was created for the warfighter."
"One of my top priorities is to make sure we remain the most powerful and efficient military force in the world -- and we must do that by cutting fat, not muscle, from the Pentagon," Senator Manchin said. "An audit is a critical step in making sure that decisionmakers have accurate information about our spending and our priorities, and I am committed to working with Senator Coburn and all our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure the Defense Department passes an audit."
Under the Coburn-Manchin amendment, if the Department of Defense fails to obtain a clean audit opinion in 2017 it will result in the creation of a separate Chief Management Officer (CMO) of the Department of Defense. The new CMO who will be charged with fixing the Pentagon's financial management, business transformation, and information technology problems -- including failing to get a clean audit opinion -- which have put it on the Government Accountability Office's High Risk list for potential waste of taxpayer funds.
Finally, this legislation mandates that if the Department of Defense fails to obtain a clean audit opinion in 2017 the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the agency that cuts the checks for the Pentagon, will be moved from the Department of Defense to the Department of the Treasury. The Department of the Treasury already disburses funding on behalf of all other federal agencies who all receive audit opinions.