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Friday, November 17, 2006

Military services questioned over financial management

Lawmakers on Thursday voiced concerns during a Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing that the military services have failed to make substantial changes in their business operations, leading to continued cost hikes and schedule delays on the Pentagon's expensive weapons systems.

The result is billions of dollars squandered every year that could be better spent on more pressing needs both for the military and elsewhere in the government, the senators said. "This is mundane stuff," said Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman John Ensign, R-Nev. "This is not fighting wars."

But a failure to transform business operations, which makes warfighting more difficult, he added. Ensign was joined in his criticism of the services' business efforts by Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker, who urged Congress to establish a chief operating officer in the Pentagon to keep program costs and schedules under control.

Army, Navy and Air Force officials, meanwhile, touted their attempts to transform their business offices over the last year. However, they also acknowledged that more work must be done to boost financial oversight and accountability.

"Improving the Army's financial accountability and modernizing business systems are challenging endeavors, which require a long-term commitment to ensure that enduring improvements are implemented," John Argodale, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for financial operations, said in his prepared testimony.


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