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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sen. Tom Coburn presses Pentagon leaders to improve financial management

Republican says he’ll push for budget freeze on some accounts until books can be audited

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn on Tuesday asked the nation’s top military leaders to get the Pentagon’s financial books in order, saying he would press for a budget freeze on some accounts until they can be audited.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, sent a letter to the chiefs of staff of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps asking them “to aggressively pursue financial improvement and audit readiness in order to preserve the military’s ability to take care of our troops today and to invest in the needed modernization of our weapon systems for the future.”

Coburn wrote that better financial management could save money and prevent cuts, but that strong leadership was needed to overcome “institutional resistance” to changes at the Pentagon.

The senator said the Pentagon could not produce financial statements that could be audited and that managers couldn’t make important financial decisions without accurate data.

The Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, has repeatedly placed some of the Pentagon’s business operations in its “high-risk” category “because of their vulnerability to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.”

In a report last week, the GAO said the Pentagon has made some progress toward reforming its business practices, including naming a chief management officer and a deputy chief management officer.

-Chris Casteel, NewsOK.com

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