Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aimed at Protecting Taxpayer Dollars, McCaskill and Coburn Take Next Step Toward Pentagon Audit

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor, is helping lead an effort with Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to audit the Pentagon’s books and cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars within the Department of Defense.

“It’s not just a matter of accountability—it’s a matter of national security that the Pentagon be able to account for the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it receives every year,” said McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “How can we protect taxpayer dollars from waste and abuse, or set the priorities for protecting our freedoms, if the Defense Department can’t even tell us how these vast sums of money are being spent? This legislation is bipartisan, it’s common sense, and it’ll take some big steps toward stronger accountability over federal spending.”

McCaskill has joined a bipartisan group of Senators led by Coburn on legislation designed to ensure that the Pentagon submit to a comprehensive financial audit.

“By failing to pass an audit, the Pentagon has undermined our national security,” Coburn said. “This bill ends the culture of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ budgeting within the Pentagon that says, ‘don’t ask us how we’re spending money because we can’t tell you.’ When the Pentagon can’t tell Congress, or itself, how it is spending money good programs face cuts along with wasteful programs, which is the situation in which we find ourselves today under sequestration.  In short, this bill helps the Pentagon help itself.  Passing an audit is a critical step that will protect vital priorities and help the Pentagon comply with current law and our Constitution.”

Tough provisions included in the bipartisan bill include:

·         The creation of a Chief Management Officer position, with the power to oversee and fix the Pentagon’s finances and IT problems
·         After years of failed attempts to standardize payroll software, transferring the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to Treasury, which oversees payments for the rest of the federal government
·         Preventing any new major weapon system past the research and development phase until a full accounting of Pentagon finances takes place
In April, McCaskill chaired a Senate hearing to check the Pentagon's progress on a full audit, telling military leaders, “Sound financial systems and good data are critical to our efforts to provide efficient management, save money, and ensure accountability at the Department of Defense. We simply have to do better.”

In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that current Pentagon efforts to achieve auditability were years behind schedule and had cost taxpayers over $8 billion.

As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, McCaskill has consistently fought to crack down on wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, recently introducing bipartisan legislation to overhaul wartime contingency contracting, after it was revealed that $60 billion dollars had been wasted in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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