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House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) plans to offer this week an Audit the Pentagon floor amendment to HR 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2014. It is a bipartisan amendment that is cosponsored by Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

The House Rules Committee will decide late Wednesday June 12 if the amendment (#151) will be debated on the floor (hundreds of amendments were submitted for the huge defense bill).

The amendment is very modest version of her bipartisan bill, HR 559, "The Audit the Pentagon Act". The NDAA bill as reported does little about the problem except repeat previous platitudes. This is the kind of common sense leadeship that can actually help solve problems.

Below the fold: how the amendment addresses the Pentagon accounting crisis

The problem: The Pentagon accounting crisis

The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and other laws require almost every federal agency to routinely pass an audit. Of the 24 major agencies, only DOD is "unauditable," according to the GAO. The Treasury Dept's Financial Report of the US Government (FRUSG) for fiscal year 2012 shows that DOD yet again has nothing to audit -- its books are a complete mess.

In the last dozen years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when DOD would pass an audit. Meanwhile, Congress doubled Pentagon spending. No new laws are needed to compel the audit, and the usual blue-ribbon commission has already reported.

The only way the Pentagon will ever fix its accounting is if its chronic failure to properly account for taxpayer money begins to affect its budget.

The solution:  Create mild incentive to comply with audit law

As prepared, the Lee-Burgess-Schakowsky Audit the Pentagon amendment would slightly reduce FY2014 spending for any military department or defense agency that does not pass an audit on its FY2013 spending.

Any savings go to deficit reduction.

The amendment would apply to each military department and defense agency separately, leaving unaffected those which pass an audit. For example, the Marines would be held harmless if they could pass an audit while the Air Force was unauditable. This creates an incentive for each service to get its house in order.

Specifically, in FY2014 the amendment would impose a very small (.5%, one-half of one percent) reduction in the Budget Authority of any military department or defense agency that did not have at least a qualified (meaning OK, with some reservations) audit for FY2013.

Within the department or agency, SecDef would have discretion to apply any cuts in manner to minimize effect on national security.

Exempted from any cuts would be certain military personnel and health accounts.

If you like this: Rep. Lee's citizen co-signer petition for her bill: https://act.myngp.com/...

10:43 PM PT: Thur June 13 at 1:30am DC time:  Bad news. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee (which sets the terms of floor debate) did NOT allow consideration of the Lee-Burgess-Schakowsky Audit the Pentagon amendment (#151). We may never learn more about why. Hundreds of amendments were submitted, and about 166 were permitted -- some important and others less so. One thing is for sure: we will be back in coming months! Thanks to all who commented and rec'd this diary.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I look forward (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo, Chi

    to the debates on this one.

    There is no reason that they should not be able to account for the money that they spend.  Especially considering that they have such a huge percent of the budget.

    I wish the percent penalty got progressively worse.  First year, .5%, their budget should then be frozen or lowered, but never increased until they pass an audit.

    If they can't pass the second year they lose 1%, and that is their new budget line.  No increases allowed.  If they can't pass on year 3, they lose 2% off of the previous years reduced budget.

    Each year the budget is frozen at the lower amount, and the penalty doubles.

    After all, the government should be run like a business . . .

    •  I agree with most of your comment, but not this: (0+ / 0-)
      After all, the government should be run like a business . . .
    •  Yes, Rep. Lee seems to share your thinking (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allenjo, divineorder, SilverWillow

      Rep. Lee actually introduced a bill (HR 559) earlier this year that would impose a 5% penalty (not 0.5% like this amendment).

      The goal this week to get the House Rules Committee to allow the amendment to be debated, and to begin educating members of Congress and others about the issue. The modest 0.5% cut in her amendment makes that easier.

      I suspect as members of the House begin to focus on this in coming months, some may seek deeper cuts.

      •  We can only hope so, as poverty in this country (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilverWillow

        is at the highest in decades and social programs being cut, the MIC is totally out of control.

        I hope that this will be true.....

        I suspect as members of the House begin to focus on this in coming months, some may seek deeper cuts.
        Who serves on the House Rules Committee?

        "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

        by allenjo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:05:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You might want to add her citizen co-signer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilverWillow

        petition to the diary.....

        Join Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
        Rein in waste and abuse. Audit the Pentagon

        In the last dozen years, the US Department of Defense has broken every promise about when it would pass an audit. To rein in waste, fraud and abuse, I have introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013 (HR 559).

        Please add your name as a citizen co-signer.

        "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

        by allenjo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:16:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's why I like (0+ / 0-)

        the ramping up idea.  Keep it small the first year, so there is minimal push back from Republicans (and Democrats).  Give them a year to get their act together, then raise 'the price' of non-compliance.

        I think doubling the amount would help it through also.  After all, if you miss the first year, it is only up to 1%.  But once you hit year year 4, things start getting really serious.

        The selling point is, of coarse they can get their books together in 3 years.  And if they can't, then WE need to make sure that the government is fiscally responsible.  Need to stress it is the Government, not the military.  As Military spending is good, Government spending is bad.  (and yes I am aware that military spending is government spending, but I am not sure the Republican base understands)

    •  It has less to do with "government being run (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilverWillow

      like a business" and more to do with "the citizenry deserves to know what their tax money is being spent on".

      Otherwise, I also like your proposal.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:38:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pentagon "books are a complete mess" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice
    DOD yet again has nothing to audit -- its books are a complete mess.
    I recall Panetta said a few years back that possibly the DOD could pass an audit by 2014...........

    This is truly an example of how bad congress really is, that this situation has gone on for this long.

    This is a diary that should be on the rec list all week long.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:34:51 PM PDT

    •  Jury still out on Panetta's impact on audit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allenjo

      SecDef Panetta in the fall of 2012 set an interim goal of having the Pentagon pass an audit on a Statement of Budgetary Resources (a partial financial statement) by 2014. Even that target will probably be missed.

      The jury is still out on his impact. He brought more focus on the audit problem, but other officials have done that before and the deadlines just wooshed by.

  •  Rep. Barbara Lee's diary from last year..... (0+ / 0-)

    Time to put an end to "unlimited spending and no accountability at the Pentagon"

    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.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:43:29 PM PDT

  •  That's how you find secret budget nodes. (0+ / 0-)

    But I fear it's too methodical a way to compel wholesale change any time soon.  

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 03:45:27 PM PDT

  •  Barbara Lee is fantastic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo

    Let's have a look at the books, shall we?
    I'd be interested to find out how much private contractors are wasting. And I'd love to know how much the Pentagon spends to shape their public image. And how.

    Oh, I want to investigate the Generals, the size of their staffs and their dealings with private contractors(revolving door).

  •  Fiscal responsibility (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo

    Anyone who votes against this has no right to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility.  End Stop.

    The same goes for Boehner if he refuses to allow it to come to a vote.

  •  to all of you commenting, please click on the link (0+ / 0-)

    and sign Lee's citizen petition, and add your "citizen" support, please.

    Takes 5 seconds.

    https://act.myngp.com/...

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:29:16 PM PDT

  •  I love it! (0+ / 0-)

    It's about time that the Military-Industrial Complex was reminded of whom they theoretically serve. Of course, the bill will either be ignored utterly by the Beltway media, or be used by Republicans as a way of showing how the Democrats "want the terrorists to win", but it's about time the Democratic Party remembered that they were not the co-conspirators in the MIC's neverending robbery of the United States.

    "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

    by Australian2 on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:36:49 AM PDT

    •  Credit where due (0+ / 0-)

      Of course, there is no doubt excessive and uncounted Pentagon spending influences and even corrupts many.

      In giving credit this week, it's worth noting that Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-TX), from Dick Armey's old district, cosponsored the amendment and made a point to appear at the Rules Committee yesterday to testify that the amendment should be allowed to be debated. He also cosponsored the stronger version in Rep. Lee's bill.

      Our organization will keep on it.

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