The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

DOD Auditors Swing and Miss

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Auditors at the Department of Defense (DOD) have provided a blueprint for underachieving students everywhere:  they may have failed the test, but they never expected to pass!

Speaking to reporters on November 15, 2018, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”  While the DOD set ultra-low expectations for the audit, according to Shanahan, it did provide insight into areas the Pentagon can improve.  These include compliance with cybersecurity policies and improving inventory accuracy.  He did not indicate how much money turned up missing in the audit.

With a budget of approximately $700 billion in fiscal year 2018, that amount is likely to be substantial.

The DOD remains the sole federal agency that has not undergone a clean audit under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.  The books are so bad that areas within the DOD have been on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) list of programs at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement since 1995.

In 2013, the Pentagon announced with much fanfare that the Marine Corps became the first military service to attain a clean audit.  Then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel even held a ceremony on February 6, 2014, stating, “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.”

Damn, that celebration was short-lived.  A July 30, 2015 GAO report stated that the DOD Inspector General “did not perform sufficient procedures, under professional standards, and consequently did not obtain sufficient, appropriate audit evidence to support the audit opinion.” 

After the Pentagon’s most recent failure, it appears the DOD is still years away from passing an audit. 

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