The Department of Defense (DOD) failed its sixth straight audit with little positive change from the year prior, despite pledges from Pentagon leaders to make improvements on the massive undertaking each year.
Auditors gave seven of the department’s 29 sub-agencies a clean audit in 2023, with no change from the 2022 audit, according to a Wednesday statement. Although it’s not a surprise that the DOD hasn’t yet been able to account for its $3.8 trillion enterprise and $4 trillion in liabilities, scattered across 50 states and 4,500 sites globally, DOD officials previously said they expected to see incremental improvement, Defense News reported.
“Auditing the Department’s $3.8 trillion in assets and $4.0 trillion in liabilities is a massive undertaking,” said Pentagon comptroller Michael McCord, “but the improvements and changes we are making every day as a result of these audits positively affect every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, guardian and DOD civilian.”
The Pentagon began formally auditing itself in 2018, one of the last federal agencies to begin doing so after Congress required the practice in 1990.
Results for three sub-evaluations — for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Defense Information Systems Agency Working Capital Fund and the DOD Office of Inspector General — are still ongoing, the statement read. One was rated as “qualified,” a step above failure but not sufficient to rate as clean. The remaining 18 failed.
“It’s not enough,” McCord said, according to Defense News. “The secretary [of defense] feels that we need to be doing better at this and moving faster.”
Half of DOD assets fall short of auditing standards, he said.
Still, McCord painted the results in a positive light, showing where incremental progress had been made even that progress wasn’t reflected in the final determinations, according to Defense News.
“I want to highlight that while we still have much work to do, our work on the audit over the last few years has yielded significant benefits to the department. Our efforts to track coordinate and quickly deliver security systems to our allies and partners in Ukraine and now Israel is closely related to the work across the DOD enterprise on readiness,” McCord said.
Yesterday, @InnovationBoard released their in-progress review! Thank you for your studies and sharing your expertise.
— Department of Defense (@DeptofDefense) November 15, 2023
One area of progress involved moving closer to reconciling with the Treasury Department’s ledger on the Pentagon, progress that could help minimize the possibility of fraud, Defense News reported.
Another area was the use of robots to perform menial accounting tasks, Defense News reported. In the Navy and Air Force alone, use of bots helped save up to 600,000 man hours, McCord said.
A final sign of progress could be felt on the battlefield in Ukraine and in Gaza, McCord added, according to Defense News. When Israel asked the U.S. for material support in its war against the Hamas terrorist group, the Pentagon knew what capabilities it had to give, where they were located and what condition they were in.
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