The Pentagon audit may reveal "unpleasant surprises"

  • 24 July 2018
  • NormanL

For the first time in its history, the Pentagon is undergoing a financial audit. It's taken years to get to it started, and not a few back channel bureaucratic battled have attempted to prevent it. But finally, the DoD's books are getting a thorough outside review.

More than 1200 auditors are on the job, with a report expected in November.

What might we expect?

First, the DoD isn't expected to get an opinion that affirms its accounting is accurate. This has happened before:

“It took the Department of Homeland Security, a relatively new and much smaller enterprise, about ten years to get to its first clean opinion,” [Pentagon CFO David] Norquist noted at the March Senate hearing.

So there will be problems. What kind of problems?

In the case of the DoD audit, “I anticipate the audit process will uncover many places where our controls or processes are broken. There will be unpleasant surprises. Some of these problems may also prove frustratingly difficult to fix.”

“But the alternative is to operate in ignorance of the challenge and miss the opportunity to reform.  Fixing these vulnerabilities is essential to avoid costly or destructive problems in the future,” Mr. Norquist said

There are sure to be plenty of "unpleasant surprises" on the Pentagon's books. And it is vital to identify them so they can be corrected.  A strong national defense requires that resources are used efficiently and effectively. Left unfixed, those "unpleasant surprises" will continue to hamper any effort to sustain a robust defense.