WASHINGTON — Stepping up pressure on the Pentagon to get its financial books in order, Sen. Tom Coburn introduced a bill Thursday that would stall the production of new weapons systems until the Defense Department can perform an audit.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, was joined by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and seven other senators from both parties on legislation called the “Audit the Pentagon Act.”
“By failing to pass an audit, the Pentagon has undermined our national security,” Coburn said in a statement.
“This bill ends the culture of ‘don't ask, don't tell' budgeting within the Pentagon that says, ‘don't ask us how we're spending money because we can't tell you.'”
The Government Accountability Office has placed the Pentagon in its “high risk” group because the Defense Department can't ensure “basic accountability” of the hundreds of billions of dollars received each year.
The department's financial management deficiencies adversely affect its ability to control costs; anticipate future costs; measure performance; maintain control of funds; prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse; and address pressing management issues, the GAO says.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has made it a priority to get the Pentagon “audit ready” by 2014 — three years ahead of a congressional mandate. Robert F. Hale, comptroller of the Defense Department, told a Senate subcommittee in April the Pentagon must “change our business practices — we're with you there — and we are doing it.”