According to the Defense Department's yearly financial report the Pentagon has once again failed its independent annual audit. This failure primarily stems from defense officials' inability to provide auditors with sufficient information for a comprehensive accounting evaluation. The annual audit assessed $3.8 trillion in military assets, which have gone virtually unaccounted for. The Pentagon has faced similar audit failures in the past, prompting harsh criticism from many members of Congress. April 27th, 2023 Senator Barbara Lee and June 20th, 2023 Bernie Sanders sponsored bills to audit the Pentagon with no traction.
This recent audit reaffirms that the Pentagon refuses to hold itself accountable and will continue to fail annual audits. Congress needs to reintroduce the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would impose penalties on the Pentagon for its ongoing audit failures.
Every year, hundreds of independent auditors scrutinize the Pentagon's books to determine its ability to account for allocated funds and assess the military's spending efficiency. Three possible audit ratings exist: an unqualified opinion, a qualified opinion, and a disclaimer of opinion.
The consolidated 2023 audit, encompassing the overall accounting of the Defense Department, resulted in a disclaimer of opinion. This implies that the Pentagon couldn't furnish auditors with enough financial data to form an opinion.
Notably, since the annual audit became federal law in 2018, the Pentagon has never passed these audits. The Defense Department stands alone as the only Cabinet-level department that has never received a clean financial report.
Moreover, a March GAO report revealed that the DOD spends billions of dollars annually on its business and financial systems. Despite these substantial investments, business systems modernization and financial management efforts have been on GAO's High-Risk List since 1995, posing persistent obstacles to achieving a clean audit.
Considering the Pentagon's prolonged presence on the High-Risk List, one can’t help but question the effectiveness of the funds allocated for business and financial systems. The failure to address these issues raises concerns, proper accountability, auditing procedures, and more importantly, what are the billions of dollars actually being spent on, considering the business and financial systems are STILL high risk?
Fortunately, many members of Congress have acknowledged the Pentagon's history of failed audits and have become increasingly critical of these shortcomings.
This summer, a bipartisan group of senators revived the Audit the Pentagon Act, suggesting a 1% budget surrender for any military component failing annual audits. With the recent audit failure, reinstating this Act becomes imperative to hold the Pentagon accountable for its recurring audit failures.
A significant portion of the unaccounted-for money is sourced from American taxpayer dollars. It is essential to demand accountability and transparent audits from the Pentagon to ensure responsible use of funds.
Congress must take action to hold the Pentagon accountable by insisting on a clean audit, proper asset accounting, and ensuring funds are used as claimed. Additionally, advocating for the Audit the Pentagon Act is crucial to penalize military components failing audits, compelling them to surrender 1% of their budget. It is time to address and rectify the Pentagon's failings and reinforce accountability measures — pass the Audit the Pentagon Act!