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Auditing Defense Spending Auditors

Taxpayers need and deserve an aggressive team of auditors watch-dogging how tax dollars are spent.  That’s why I’m urging auditors for the Defense Department’s inspector general to issue stronger recommendations, focus on fraud and appropriate criminal referrals, and follow up for accountability and recovery of improper payments of defense dollars.

This audit work is a mission of the highest importance.  The good news is that the quality appears to be improving since I started making assessments several years ago after receiving information about mismanagement and no benefit to taxpayers or program integrity despite a cost of $100 million a year for the auditing operation.

The work I first examined was little more than policy and compliance reviews, with no real attempt to scrutinize the dollar impact of misguided efforts.  If we’re going to have accountability with valuable defense dollars, we need hard-core, fraud-busting contract audits.

This month I made my third annual review of the audit work of the Inspector General’s office.  My report awarded a grade of C, up from last year’s D-minus.  I appreciate the interest of Acting Inspector General Lynne M. Halbrooks in making the audit work more aggressive and effective.  I’ve also asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to examine audit recommendations and pursue reforms.

This scrutiny is a continuation of my defense oversight and legislative reform work.  During the 1980s, I focused on military procurement reform and helped to expose the gross overpricing of spare parts.  Passage in 1985 of an amendment I co-authored froze the defense budget and helped to put the brakes on waste.  As part of efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse of defense dollars, I challenged the iron triangle of congressional committees, the Pentagon and special interest groups.

I’ve also drawn attention to egregious practices of the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, the agency that manages payments for the Department of Defense, and offered a series of reform amendments to annual spending bills for the Department of Defense.  And, for many years, I’ve worked to empower watchdogs and whistleblowers to speak up regarding defense spending abuses and to hold accountable inspectors general who are responsible for oversight of defense dollars.

March 19, 2012