I was a military brat. My father was a World War II and Korean War veteran and career Army man.
I grew up believing in the power and patriotism of the U.S. military, but being patriotic does not mean blindly accepting bloated Pentagon spending rife with waste, fraud and abuse.
Our country spends more than $700 billion a year on the military. To rein in waste, fraud and abuse, I have introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2012 (HR 6528). I hope you’ll stand with me to see it passed and implemented.
Many people across the ideological spectrum agree the Pentagon needs auditing. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed with the concept.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who co-sponsored a similar bill, Senate Bill 3487, said in an op-ed:
“Auditing the Pentagon is critically important not just because it is the law but also because our ignorance of how we spend defense dollars undermines our national security. When the Pentagon can't tell Congress -- or itself -- how it is spending money, high-priority defense programs face cuts along with low-priority programs, the exact situation in which we find ourselves today under sequestration. In short, this bill helps the Pentagon to help itself.”To be sure, some people worry than an audit would provide strategic planning and tactical capability to unfriendly countries, but it could be done in a secure manner.
Here’s what the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2012 would do. Please consider adding your name to my petition as a citizen co-signer.
· Require financial statements and compliance with basic accounting standards. The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and other laws require almost every major and minor federal agency to produce financial statements that can pass an independent external audit each year. The US Department of Defense (DOD) is the only agency that cannot be audited or predict realistically when it will pass an audit. Meanwhile, nearly sixty cents of every federal discretionary dollar now goes toward defense spending, and by the Pentagon’s own admission, it cannot properly account for how the money is spent. There is no doubt that these circumstances have contributed to instances of waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon.
· Budget penalties for lack of transparency. Reduce by 5 percent the discretionary budget authority of any Federal agency for a fiscal year if the financial statement of the agency for the previous fiscal year cannot be audited by an external independent auditor. The bill would exempt military personnel accounts and the Defense Health Program. It also contains a waiver for any potential harm to national security or combat forces. The savings generated from H.R. 6528 would be retained in the general fund for deficit reduction.
This bill embodies a simple principle: If an agency is chronically unable to properly account for taxpayer dollars, there should be consequences for that agency's budget. In the last dozen years, DOD has broken every promise about when it would pass an audit. This problem is not newly discovered, and further delay is unacceptable, especially given our fiscal constraints, and the enormous and increasing proportion of federal dollars going toward the defense budget.
The financial reforms necessary to abide by basic accounting standards, laws, and regulations at DOD cannot wait. It is time for DOD to comply with current law and to finally do away with a culture of unlimited spending and no accountability at the Pentagon.
Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM PT: Congresswoman Lee re-introduced this bill and it is now called Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013 (HR 559).