Balancing the Books

By Thomas Duffy / November 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Yesterday the Pentagon provided a look at its books when it released its fiscal year 2009 financial report detailing how the Defense Department used approximately $666 billion during the 12-month period.

A glaring weakness in the recent financial statements DOD has issued is that none can be held up to an audit. The law requires it; however, DOD cannot meet that standard. The problem is the financial management systems the department relies on cannot produce the kind of detailed data about what monies were spent where and when that an auditor needs, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told the House Budget Committee in March. The systems “weren't designed to do that, and they don't do it,” he told the committee

Hale, who authored the newly released Fy09 report, says in the preface that the department has made progress toward what he terms “audit readiness” in recent years.

However, many of the most difficult problems remain, and the Department has not created a focused plan that offered a realistic chance of success in a reasonable period of time. After careful review, I have decided to implement a new strategy. DOD will focus on improving information and achieving audit readiness in those areas where we most use the information to manage, including the Statement of Budgetary Resources and the existence and completeness of weapons and other items. DOD is currently working to devise specific plans to carry out this new strategy.

Also available are the military services' 2009 financial statements: Army, Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force.