Pentagon fails audit again despite progress

The Pentagon is seen in Virginia.
The Pentagon is seen in Virginia. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Pentagon fails audit again despite progress

The Department of Defense completed its fifth annual audit, and while progress was made, it again failed.

The independent audit, which was published by the DOD Inspector General on Tuesday, is a massive undertaking in which independent accountants dig into every aspect of the department (an organization that employed nearly 3 million people with more than 640,000 assets located on more than 4,860 sites in more than 40 foreign countries) that encompasses more than 25 million acres.

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“The results of the fifth annual DOD-wide financial audit will be a disclaimer of opinion for DOD as a whole. This is the same as last year and … not unexpected. We did expect this disclaimer, but we will also sustain all of our prior year positive opinions, which cover approximately 39 percent of our assets,” Michael J. McCord, the undersecretary of defense (comptroller)/chief financial officer, told reporters on Tuesday.

“I would say we failed to get an ‘A,’” he said. “I would not say that we flunked. The process is important for us to do, and it is making us get better. It is not making us get better as fast as we want.”

The audit found no net change after several new weaknesses emerged but others were consolidated.

McCord, who previously served in his position from 2009 to 2017, said he was “disappointed that we didn’t show more progress this year.”

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The report is a conglomeration of 27 separate audits conducted by roughly 1,600 auditors from private firms.

“As we get sort of to the harder things, the progress is getting a little harder as well,” McCord said, adding that every year, the recommendations are becoming more complex and difficult, “with much of the lower hanging fruit having been picked.”

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