According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, the DOD failed its fifth consecutive audit because it was unable to account for at least $220 billion in government-owned property.
Federal law has required the DOD to conduct audits since 1994; however, Military.com claims that the rule was neglected for many years due to the agency’s enormous size. The Pentagon has failed every independent audit it has conducted since it began in 2017.
In November, the Pentagon failed its fifth audit because it was unable to demonstrate where 61% of its $3.5 trillion in assets had been spent. The government combined 27 independent audits carried out by roughly 1,600 auditors to perform this year’s comprehensive audit of the DOD, which was estimated to cost $218 million. Military.com reports that the auditors visited the sites in person 220 times and virtually 750 times.
According to the GAO research, the DOD was initially informed by auditors that the agency had neglected to maintain track of its government-furnished property in 2001.
“Auditor reports of DOD’s lack of accountability for government property held by contractors date back decades,” according to the GAO study. “This long-standing problem, which has an impact on GFP’s accounting and reporting, is one of the causes of DOD’s inability to provide auditable financial statements.”
The anticipated cost of the Pentagon’s GFP in 2014 was at least $220 billion. However, the report by the GAO claims that this number is probably “substantially understated.”
According to the GAO report, “for instance, in fiscal year 2016, we reported that the Army indicated the exact amount of these GFP assets is unknown and that real quantities may be much different than the Army’s documented property records represent.”
The DOD is the “only major government agency that has not been able to get an audit opinion,” according to the GAO.
Mike McCord, the comptroller for the Pentagon, expressed his “disappointment” that the organization only made a small step this year toward a clean audit.
“We did not fail, in my opinion. We must complete the procedure since it is helping us improve. It is not causing us to recover as quickly as we would like,” said McCord.