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Monday, September 26, 2011

Better oversight of contracts called key to repairing Pentagon ledgers

Improving oversight and administration of defense contracts is the key to victory in Pentagon financial managers' struggle to meet a 2017 deadline for auditable books, a Defense Department deputy inspector general official said Friday.

"From the contract officer level to the contract officer on the ground, the more improvement in regulation and oversight of contracts, the more we will know about how we are spending the taxpayers' money," Daniel Blair, deputy inspector general for auditing at Defense, told lawmakers.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management heard testimony from three financial management specialists discussing the 14-year-plus effort to integrate some 2,200 separate Pentagon business systems -- handling $2 billion to $3 billion in transactions daily -- to achieve auditability and to get Defense accounting systems off the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday reiterated his position that book-keeping problems must be solved quickly.


Of the 14 Defense entities that are required to prepare annual financial statements, only two have achieved an unqualified opinion, said Blair, the two being the Military Retirement Fund and the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works. In the push to meet the 2017 deadline, which involves standing up new systems that cost $9 billion, some milestones have already begun to slip, he said.

-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com
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