This has not been a good year for government accountability review by Inspector General departments. The latest to taste the whip – Department of Defense.
Financial Management, Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or supported (Project No. D2015-D000FL-0243.000)DODIG-2016-113 recently rolled off the presses for public review. It was a stunning indictment of how DoD accounts for tax dollars and budgeted items.
Finding (emphasis and underline mine)
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller) (OASA[FM&C]) and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis (DFAS Indianapolis) did not adequately support $2.8 trillion in third quarter journal voucher (JV) adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end JV adjustments made to AGF data during FY 2015 financial statement compilation. The unsupported JV adjustments occurred because OASA(FM&C) and DFAS Indianapolis did not prioritize correcting the system deficiencies that caused errors resulting in JV adjustments, and did not provide sufficient guidance for supporting system‑generated adjustments.
In addition, DFAS Indianapolis did not document or support why the Defense Departmental Reporting System‑Budgetary (DDRS-B), a budgetary reporting system, removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million records during third quarter FY 2015. This occurred because DFAS Indianapolis did not have detailed documentation describing the DDRS-B import process or have accurate or complete system reports.
As a result, the data used to prepare the FY 2015 AGF third quarter and year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail. Furthermore, DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions. Until the Army and DFAS Indianapolis correct these control deficiencies, there is considerable risk that AGF financial statements will be materially misstated and the Army will not achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline of September 30, 2017.
The following seems to address information on the topic of information and technology:
The Use of Inflation Indexes in the Department of Defense Summary for 2010-2012. The 2009 Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act (WSARA) requires Department of Defense (DoD), Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to“…periodically assess and update the cost (or inflation) indexes used by the Department to ensure that such indexes have a sound basis and meet the Department’s needs for realistic cost estimation.”
DoD Defense Instruction 8500.01 dated March 14, 2014 went into great detail about cybersecurity, information technology, operational resilience, upgrading networks and other matters.
In order to meet standards DoD budgets have routinely potentially ordered or approved many contracts in the information technology. For instance, in a single week of August 2014 the Defense Department awarded 75 contracts potentially worth $6.2 billion in the week ending Aug. 22, according to a Military.com analysis of announcements.
Anyone familiar with integrating, reviewing, and reporting massive information realizes that there are limitations and criteria to use that will assist in producing reasonable compilation and documentation.
Are we according to the IG report supposed to accept or believe that DoD “lost” that many records? No company allows information on a massive scale of anywhere near 20 million records to seemingly be deleted. First if it were a public entity like an oil company, IRS and FBI would be all over the company and heads would roll. Second, why can’t they find that many records? Every IT department has means and methods to back up daily, weekly and yearly records.
But apparently DoD is simply continuing business as usual in their accounting methods – or else, there would not be yearly headlines hitting about their spending. Do we get hyper or simply shrug it off? The following is just 1 sample per year since 2013 of such articles; but believe me, one could search archives and find many articles for decades highlighting spending problems.
PBS News Hour – Accounting fraud is business as usual at the Pentagon, Reuters reports November 18, 2013
Personal Liberty – Pentagon Can’t Account For 8.5 Trillion Taxpayer Dollars
Posted on November 19, 2013 by Sam Rolley
OmniCenter – Pentagon Budget Newsletter# 2. April 18, 2014.
Investment Watch Blog Pentagon Is Now Saying 8.5 Trillion Dollars Is Missing And They Have No Idea What Happened To It! Submitted by IWB, on August 18th, 2015
Is DoD that really that careless that trillions of dollars are actually unaccounted for or is their IT and accounting departments and others due for a major overhaul? I would say both are true.
DoD has been accused of spending on unnecessary or unwanted projects like the abandoned base in Afghanistan which topped $3 billion, decorating locations with extremely expensive artwork and furniture, cutting corners on retiree assistance, playing favorites for equipment and transportation contracts, allowing massively overpriced payments for things as simple as a hammer that could be purchased at a local store, losing or misplacing tons of high dollar equipment from inventory, and indulging in high dollar parties using government credit cards – all at taxpayers expense.
Most of this is irresponsible oversight and mismanagement. Some is transference of funds to pay for presidential fund shuffling and his transportation. Some may be honest mistakes and some is outright theft. But to continue this year after year, decade after decade is unacceptable.
Sadly it is not just one agency or department of the executive branch just as it did not all occur on Obama’s watch alone. It is EVERY ONE of them.
Hopefully public awareness during this election time will at least help this become an issue but I doubt it will go any further than File 13 just like the last decades of misspent or unaccounted for spending.