Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley Receives Response from GAO on DoD Financial Mismanagement

Sep 30, 2020
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today made the following statement after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the Department of Defense (DoD) accounting systems. Grassley, along with the Chairman of the Budget Committee, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Budget Committee Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), sent a letter to GAO in July, 2018 requesting the agency conduct an independent review of the reasons behind the DoD’s failure to acquire modern financial information technology systems capable of generating reliable information and supporting credible financial statements. 
 
“This report has confirmed my longtime concerns about financial mismanagement and waste at the Department of Defense. I appreciate that the Department is working towards a clean audit and updating their financial management systems. However, it’s clear from this report that they have a long way to go. Unfortunately, the GAO report failed to uncover the root cause of the ongoing problems with financial management systems, and did not fully answer all of the questions that we asked. My oversight work is one of my top priorities, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to hold the Department accountable and find out why its financial management systems cannot produce reliable information,” Grassley said.
 
The GAO report found that data supporting the DOD’s fiscal year 2019 financial statements were not reliable, according to the DOD Office of Inspector General (OIG) and independent auditors. In January 2020, the OIG reported that the department had wide-ranging weaknesses in its financial management systems that prevented it from collecting and reporting financial and performance information that was accurate, reliable, and timely. Specifically, the OIG reported 25 material weaknesses that impacted DOD’s ability to achieve an unmodified audit opinion on its fiscal year 2019 department-wide financial statements.
 
The GAO report also highlighted several areas that the DoD needs to address in order to fix their financial management systems including:
 
  • To help improve its financial management systems environment, the DoD has developed a financial management systems strategy. However, they have not established measures to determine if it is succeeding in achieving its goals to improve its financial management systems.
  • The DoD lacks an enterprise road map to implement its financial management systems strategy, as required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The enterprise road map would help the department to be better positioned to know of and reuse existing solutions and services, see dependencies between projects department-wide that require sequencing, make consistent decisions, and provide measurable results.
  • DOD does not have sufficiently detailed plans for migrating certain critical legacy accounting systems to new systems. If the department proceeds to migrate without plans, it may experience cost increases and schedule delays because of deployment and interface issues.
  • DOD has developed a plan to begin to address the IT and cybersecurity issues, but it lacks performance goals.
  • DOD does not track which of its systems are for financial management. This, in turn, impedes the department’s ability to effectively manage the portfolio of systems that supports managing its financial and asset information and achieving an unmodified audit opinion.
 
To address the DoD’s underlying financial management system weaknesses, GAO outlined six recommendations to move forward.
 
Grassley, along with the other requestors of the GAO report and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), also sent a letter earlier this month to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, urging them to include in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 certain provisions to that would make progress towards a clean audit, including more detailed reporting to Congress on DOD financial management systems.  
 
Grassley has long worked to hold the DoD accountable for its excessive and seemingly unaccounted for spending of taxpayer dollars. Grassley’s oversight efforts of the DoD date back to the 1980s, when he pressed for answers as to why the department spent hundreds of dollars on everyday items, such as toilet seats and hammers. The day before sending this letter to GAO, Grassley spoke on the Senate floor about the ongoing waste at the DoD, noting it recently revealed paying $10,000 for toilet seat lids. Grassley also wrote an op-ed on the subject.
 
Grassley has been a vigilant advocate for an efficient and effective accounting system at the DoD, and most recently he has repeatedly sought answers for the exorbitant spending of taxpayer money and excessive price-gouging of spare parts by the TransDigm Group, Inc.
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