Pentagon takes first step on financial audit 

Posted: 10:22 pm Monday, January 6th, 2014

By Jamie Dupree

It didn’t get much attention when the news was released on December 23, but it is something that we shouldn’t ignore – auditors gave the thumbs-up to the Marine Corps for getting a clean audit of its budget.

It was the first time any branch of the military service had been given an “unqualified favorable audit” for being able to show where billions in funding had gone.

Let me repeat that – it was the first time that any part of the service had been able to fully account for where all of its money was spent.

“I want to congratulate the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy on this significant achievement,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a written statement sent to reporters.

“This was the first audit of its kind for any of our armed services,” Hagel added.

The Pentagon has been struggling for years to get its financial books in order, which is somewhat of a big deal when you consider that the military accounts for about half of the spending approved each year by the Congress.

Congress has ordered the Pentagon at various times to have its books in shape – the current goal is 2017.

“There is more work to do in preparing our other military services to pass an audit, but I remain fully committed to making the Pentagon fully audit-ready by 2017,” said Hagel.

Back in 1990, the Congress approved the Chief Financial Officers Act, which among other things, required all federal agencies and departments to produce what would be regarded as a clean financial statement on their budgets.

The Pentagon’s original goal was to pass a financial audit by 1997, but then the Congress gave the military more time, and more time – and soon enough the goal was 2014 – then that was extended to 2017.

While the Pentagon budget will be around $490 billion this year, the Marine Corps budget is only about $29 billion – which is a reminder that getting the entire Pentagon to pass an audit, could take some time.

Like maybe until 2017 – or later – if the Congress extends the deadline again.

But for now, the Pentagon can at least show it has made one step forward on its financial books.