For the sixth year in a row, the U.S. Defense Department fell short of obtaining a flawless financial audit. This objective, routinely met by businesses with significantly fewer assets and liabilities than the Department’s $3.8 trillion in assets and $4 trillion in liabilities, remains elusive.
Nevertheless, officials at the Pentagon asserted notable advancements in monitoring their assets and addressing numerous shortcomings in their accounting systems.
According to Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord, “It certainly is not something that we say, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”
Approximately 1,600 auditors conducted 700 on-site inspections to assess the business processes and activities of the Defense Department. The audit, which cost $187 million, represented a minor portion of the Department’s $853 billion budget.
The audit efforts have been under the supervision of the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office, and this watchdog will release its own conclusions.
Lawmakers have been pushing for the Pentagon to attain a clean audit by 2027. Nevertheless, the Pentagon has sought to assign part of the blame to the irregular budgeting practices of lawmakers, proposing that Congress can assist by stabilizing the budget process and avoiding the use of continuing resolutions and government shutdowns.
McCord stated that this marks the 14th year of the Pentagon being funded through continuing resolutions. The latest temporary proposal would allocate funds for the Pentagon until February 2nd.
Among the 29 components of the Defense Department undergoing individual financial statement audits, seven obtained an unqualified audit opinion, while one received a qualified opinion.
The outcomes of the financial statement audits for the Marine Corps, the Defense Information Systems Agency Working Capital Fund, and the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General are still pending. Meanwhile, the remaining agencies all received disclaimers, indicating that their financial audits were not deemed clean.
Disclaimers are issued when auditors are unable to formulate an opinion on the sufficiency of financial records due to a lack of reliable data. This doesn’t necessarily imply misuse or improper utilization of funds.
An indication of advancement is the absence of newly reported Pentagon-wide material weaknesses this time, as stated by the department.
The Defense Department identified and examined $621 million in payments eligible for improper payment testing, leading to an estimated correct payment rate of 99.76% and $1.4 million in payments categorized as improper or unknown.
The department evaluates the advancement of audits in five areas: modernization of the workforce, operational efficiency, quality decision-making, dependable networks, and increased public trust.
According to a press release, the Navy examined $17 billion in unliquidated obligations, confirming that 97% of the balances complied with audit standards and revealing an accessible $330 million.