GAO Blames Defense Dept. for Causing Federal Finances to be Unauditable

Friday, December 30, 2011
Comptroller General Gene Dodaro
At the end of each year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) prepares to offer a collective analysis of all the federal government’s financial statements. But this year the GAO said it cannot do so because, among other things, the Department of Defense’s books are a wreck.
“As was the case in 2010, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual- based consolidated financial statements were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable,” declared the GAO in a statement.
The congressional watchdog added that it was unable to provide “audit opinions” to both the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, although it said: “Efforts are underway at both agencies to address this situation.”
Toward this end, the comptroller for the Defense Department has established a new office “to develop, manage, and implement a strategic approach for addressing weaknesses and for achieving auditability.”
Comptroller General Gene Dodaro also called attention to “significant uncertainties, primarily related to the achievement of projected reductions in Medicare cost growth,” and “material weaknesses involving an estimated $115.3 billion in improper payments, information security across government, and tax collection activities.”
Doing the best it could with the information available, the GAO concluded that in FY 2011 the U.S. government operated with an annual deficit of $1.3 trillion.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

GAO Accuses Bush, Obama and Congress of Careless Arms Sales to Persian Gulf (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov) 


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