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Friday, October 11, 2013

Morin paints challenging way ahead for Air Force's audit readiness

The Air Force is facing an ever increasing likelihood that it will not get its financial house in order by the first congressionally-mandated 2014 deadline.

By the end of this fiscal year, all of the Defense Department must be able to develop an auditable statement of budgetary resources.

But Jamie Morin, the Air Force's outgoing comptroller and President Barack Obama's nominee to be DoD's second director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, told lawmakers Thursday the service would struggle to meet the 2014 deadline.

Morin said meeting the financial auditability deadlines remains an important priority for DoD and there has been real progress made over the last few years.

The Air Force's struggles are not new. Morin told lawmakers in 2011 that the Air Force's systems were among the biggest roadblocks it faces.

Lawmakers also pressed Jo Ann Rooney, the President's nominee to be the undersecretary of the Navy, on the service's ability to meet the congressional financial mandates.

Rooney said she didn't have details about the Navy's status in part because of the fiscal uncertainty that hasn't let the service hire skilled workers and plan accordingly.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Rooney to go back and figure out where the Navy stands on meeting the legal deadlines. He said if she doesn't know the answer, she isn't qualified to hold the undersecretary job.

With the first deadline now less than a year away, lawmakers will pay close attention to DoD's progress, and want consequences should they miss the 2017 deadline to have an auditable financial statement.

Several members of the Armed Services Committee co-sponsor the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013, introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The bill states that if DoD fails to obtain a clean audit opinion by 2018, the military services would be barred from spending money to fund new major acquisition programs beyond what's known as "milestone B" — in essence, the actual engineering and manufacturing of new systems.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

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