Congress pushes Pentagon on financial audit

As lawmakers in the Congress wrestle with each other over how much to spend on next year's budget, another fiscal year is coming to a close where the Pentagon has once again not been able to put in place accounting procedures that can fully track its over $500 billion budget.

"It is simply unacceptable that the Department of Defense is the only major federal agency that has not completed a financial audit," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who introduced a bill this week to force the Pentagon to finish a clean audit by 2018.

Back in May of 2012, I covered a Senate hearing where members of both parties badgered Pentagon officials over their inability to comply with federal financial laws; officials said they thought the military would finally get to a clean audit in 2017.

Now the Congress seems ready to give the military another year to achieve that goal.

"Every year the Pentagon fails to produce a viable financial audit they not only violate the Constitution, but put our nation’s security at risk because of a failure to effectively prioritize spending,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who joined Manchin in once more pressing the military to fully account for its spending.

"A full and complete audit is the only way the department will be able to make better decisions about how it uses valuable taxpayer dollars," said Coburn.

The new bill from Coburn and Manchin would put some teeth into calls by Congress for a clean audit of the Department of Defense, by blocking engineering and manufacturing development funds for new weapons systems after 2018, until the books are in order at the Pentagon.

You can read the Manchin-Coburn bill here.

I'm a year older, you're a year older, and the Pentagon plan to get an audit done seems to be getting a year older as well.