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Public Statements

Audit Recognition Ceremony

Location: Munich, DE

Bob, thank you. And to you, Comptroller Hale, we are all grateful. When you talk about leadership and your sandpaper analogy, it's not too far from what happens in any institution and in life. And you have been as significant a force in this effort as anyone. And this department, this country owes you a great deal, Bob, so we are most appreciative of what you've done, what you represent, and a model that you have set.

And those who have helped you, and you've acknowledged some of them, and there's a room full of them here, they have watched you and you have set a standard -- and that's what leadership's about -- that they will emulate you and do it the way you did it. I know we're not where we need to be yet, but we've come a long way. And I think it is appropriate that we recognize that progress.

We hear not occasionally about all the things we don't do right and all the problems that we've got. Don't often hear about the things that are going right, which are the vast majority of your efforts and of this tremendous enterprise that represents the security of this country. The world relies on you and this enterprise and this institution.

So, first, I want to also include, along with acknowledging Bob Hale, all the men and women in our armed forces, the uniform and the civilians, who more than occasionally do not get enough credit for the efforts. And these kinds of things, these kinds of tremendous efforts and strides rarely get acknowledged because they're not a headline- grabbing accomplishment, but they make a huge, huge difference in everything we do, starting with the taxpayers' investment, and thank you. So we appreciate what you've done.

We appreciate, again, all of you in this room and all of you who are wherever for your efforts and some who have been a big part of this who are no longer at the Pentagon, but as Bob has noted, the leadership you provided in early days to get this started and to get an accomplishment, we thank you all.

I know that it might seem a bit unusual to be in the Hall of Heroes to honor a bookkeeping accomplishment, but, damn, this is an accomplishment.

And I think it deserves a Hall of Heroes recognition. Again, we're not satisfied. We're not where we need to be. But, too, when you think of the heroes in our country and the history of heroes that we have in our country, they've never been satisfied. They know that we can do more.

So I think it's befitting and appropriate to be here in this place to salute all of you for your efforts, and as Bob said, we are particularly appreciative of some of the specific organizations within DOD that we will honor today and our Marine Corps friends who have done a particularly effective job of moving this thing forward.

We all know that institutions must always focus on effectiveness and efficiency, competency, and that engenders confidence, confidence in our own people, but also to our constituencies and our boards of directors all over the country who pay the bill in the Congress who are part of this. And as we drive toward that efficiency and effectiveness and competency and all the things that we do pretty well around here, we can do better, we will do better, it's really important not to lose sight of what we're really about and what we're trying to accomplish.

I was reminded the other day, too, of a publicly traded company, [and] over the years I've had some opportunities to be part of those efforts in the private sector. They demand audits. You don't invest in anything without some accountability, some audits. And we're in many ways no different. We're not about business.

We're not a business. We're about one thing, and that's the national security of this country.

But for us to do our jobs better, we need to know what we're doing and how we're doing it and some measurement of that, and that's, as much as anything else, what audits do for an institution. And as Bob said, we'll recognize specifically here in a few minutes some of the organizations within DOD that have been particularly effective at accomplishing this.

As to the Marines, we want to particularly acknowledge the Marine Corps for what they have accomplished. It is not too distant from their reputation of fitness and discipline and excellence. Maybe a little different category.

Most Marines, I suspect, don't think of audits when they think of fitness and discipline. But it is about all those things. And so, to the Marines, thank you for what you have done, all our services represented here, the progress you've made. We are getting to where we need to be.

We want to be in a position to comply with the promises that we've made to the Congress and to the American people that we would be audit-ready and audit-compliant, and we're moving toward that, and every step we make, every accomplishment we achieve does that. So to the services here who have worked very hard, continue to work very hard, and all here who represent all of our services, thank you for your continued good work.

Let me close by just noting one thing. You know, in an era of great uncertainty and great volatility, and in a world [where] the rate of change is incalculable, institutions are always at a disadvantage, especially big ones, in how they respond. But respond they must. And I'm very proud of what this institution is doing in that regard, because our business is national security. That is our business.

But we do a lot of other things, too, that the outside world doesn't necessarily always know, but that's OK. We don't spend a lot of time using big megaphones to tout our great accomplishments. That's not who we are. That's not what anyone expects. We get the job done.

This is another example of we're getting the job done. We will complete this. And, again, the appropriateness of today's recognition of all of you who have done so much is very, very important, if for no other reason than, as I said earlier, just to recognize some of the things we are doing right and that we can be proud of, recognizing also we have more to do.

So, Bob and to your team, thank you. One last thing on Hale. We'll have an opportunity to sufficiently -- well, I don't know if we'll ever sufficiently be able to acknowledge him or praise him or cover him with glory, but we will try at an appropriate time.

As Bob has noted, Mike McCord, if the Senate is willing, and through their advice and consent responsibilities, gives him, as Hale said, a new position, we will welcome Mike in that new position, but we will miss our friend, Bob Hale, very, very much.
So, Bob, thank you. And to all of you, thank you.

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