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Thursday, January 26, 2012

DoD's audit goals achievable, Congressional inquiry finds

A new report by a special panel of the House Armed Services Committee finds the Defense Department has come up with a solid plan for meeting its deadlines to become auditable, though meeting the goals will take sustained commitment by the military services and continued leadership from the secretary of defense.

It's becoming a familiar storyline: the findings are strikingly similar to earlier opinions offered by the Government Accountability Office, and to the Pentagon comptroller's own assessment of DoD's path toward auditability.

Panetta got the ball rolling on DoD's accelerated audit deadline. He administratively imposed the interim 2014 date for an auditable statement of budgetary resources last year, which has since been written into law. He also ordered up a new audit strategy for meeting that deadline, which he signed off on in December.

DoD's Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller Robert Hale, who is in charge of the Pentagon's path toward auditability, said he found the panel's report to be balanced and constructive. He also echoed the importance of leadership commitment to audits.

But Hale said one of his biggest challenges is making sure DoD's managers and workforce embrace the idea that audits are their responsibility too. DoD has just started developing auditability related evaluation criteria for members of its Senior Executive Service. Conaway said Congress needs to make sure those evaluations are taken seriously.

The department also is trying to make sure its SESers and rank-and-file workforce know what they need to know about audit readiness. Congress gave DoD some new authorities in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act to create a course-based certification program for its financial management workforce, something Hale thinks would help a lot.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

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