Lewis Aims to Hold DOD Financial Officials Accountable for Waste

H.R. 2040 adds enforcement provisions to existing law requiring audits of the Department of Defense.

By David B. Gleason from Chicago, IL (CC BY-SA 2.0)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN2) introduced a bill to impose punishments for officials in the Department of Defense (DOD) when the department fails to complete a full audit by certain deadlines.

The Defense Spending Accountability Act (H.R. 2040) would impose a five percent pay cut on officials if the DOD’s financial statements are not validated as ready for audit by September 30, 2017. That deduction would increase to ten percent if they are not ready for an audit by December 31, 2018.

Both of these deadlines were already codified under Section 1003 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010. Lewis’ bill aims to add consequences for failure to meet these deadlines.

“The DSAA would simply dock pay from top Pentagon finance officials on an increasing basis if they continue to fail to meet audit deadlines,” Lewis said in a press release, “That’s fiscally responsible and will help improve our military readiness.”

The bill would affect the salaries of only a few individuals most directly responsible for the audit process. This includes the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), and the Chief Management Officer of each of the military’s departments.

The Washington Post reported in December that the Pentagon suppressed an internal study which revealed $125 billion in administrative waste. The DOD buried the report for fears that Congress would use it as a rationale for cutting the defense budget. The report laid out a path to save the $125 billion by streamlining the DOD’s bureaucracy through attrition and curtailing the use of high priced contractors.

“We have a $20 trillion national debt, and all parts of our government need to be auditable to make sure waste, fraud and abuse are avoided,” Lewis said in the release, “That applies equally to the Defense Department, where our men and women in uniform deserve to have an accountable leadership that puts their needs first.”

Anders Koskinen