The Defense Department’s latest financial audit found no evidence of fraud, no significant issues with payroll and no issues with the department’s inventory of major military equipment, but also did not give the Pentagon a clean bill of health.
Federal News Network reports the team of 1,400 auditors discovered 1,300 new issues across the services. This number is coupled with the 1,800 issues still open which were discovered during the department’s audit in 2018.
Although private companies routinely undergo independent audits, the DoD only recently embraced the process, conducting its first ever full financial audit last year. According to Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, financial audits can help the department account for its large inventory of equipment and vehicles as well as provide transparency for taxpayers and identify areas of needed improvement.
"Each of us owes it to the American taxpayer to be as responsible in spending their money as they were in earning it,” said Norquist while speaking to members of Congress last week.
The audit also found 25 material weaknesses in a variety of programs, from military housing to the F-35 Lightning II fighter, according to FNN. Auditors also found millions of dollars in untracked equipment and were able to eliminate millions more in unnecessary items.
"We employ nearly 3 million service members and civilians, [and] while a typical commercial airline manages between 300 and 1,600 aircraft, the military services fly approximately 16,000 aircraft,” Norquist said, adding that the DoD possesses a total of $292 billion in inventory, or more than six times the size of Wal-Mart’s.
Despite the new issues discovered, the auditors claim several parts of DoD are making progress to correct issues found during the last two audits. According to FNN, the Air Force, Army and Navy all made strides in fixing service-specific problems.
"[An audit] tests vulnerabilities in the security system of our business systems, and it validates the accuracy of records and actions such as promotions and separations," Norquist said.