WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to introduce the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021, which would require the Defense Department to finally pass a full independent audit beginning in fiscal year 2022. Each year that military agencies fail to obtain a clean audit opinion, one percent of their budget will be returned to the Treasury.
 
“For decades, the Defense Department has been losing the battle against wasteful spending. We've seen example after example of excessive and inefficient spending by the Pentagon, and every dollar squandered is a dollar not being used to support our men and women in uniform. After 30 years to get ready, this bill pushes the Defense Department to finally achieve a clean annual audit-- a requirement that every other federal agency is held to,” Grassley said.
 
“The Pentagon and the military industrial complex have been plagued by a massive amount of waste, fraud and financial mismanagement for decades. That is absolutely unacceptable,” said Sen. Sanders. “If we are serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively, we have got to end the absurdity of the Pentagon being the only agency in the federal government that has not passed an independent audit. The time is long overdue for Congress to hold the Defense Department to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government. That is the very least we can do.”  
 
“Taxpayers can’t afford to keep writing blank check after blank check for the Pentagon to cash. If the Department of Defense cannot pass a clean audit, as required by law, there ought to be tough, financial consequences,” Wyden said.
 
“While providing for the common defense is one of the most important jobs of the federal government, it ought to be done in a way that uses our limited resources responsibly. “By requiring the DOD to achieve a clean audit opinion starting in FY22, this bill will provide needed transparency and accountability in its use of taxpayer dollars,” Lee said.
 
The Defense Department remains the only federal agency in the United States that has been unable to pass an independent audit, despite the fact that the Pentagon consumes more than half of the nation’s discretionary budget and controls assets in excess of $3.1 trillion. Federal agencies have also been mandated by Congress to comply with annual audits by the Government Accountability Office since 1990, a requirement continually unfulfilled largely due to the DOD’s inability to pass an audit.
 
In 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan concluded that $31-60 billion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan had been lost to fraud and waste. In 2015, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that the Pentagon could not account for $45 billion in funding for reconstruction projects. In 2018, an audit conducted by Ernst & Young for the Defense Logistics Agency found that the Pentagon could not properly account for some $800 million in construction projects. 
 
On September 10, 2001, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it's stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible.” 
 
It's almost two decades later and the DOD still cannot account for trillions of dollars in transactions and has not come close to passing a clean audit. This would change with the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021.
 
Read the full bill text here.
Read the fact sheet here.
 

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