Senators Introduce Bill To Punish Pentagon

( If senators have their way, the Pentagon won’t be excused for failing to pass financial audits anymore.

This week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would ultimately penalize the Pentagon if they were to fail to pass financial audits. The bill is being spearheaded by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is the chair of the Senate’s Budget Committee.

The new bill is called the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021. The reason for its introduction is the Pentagon has failed to pass a financial audit conducted by an independent firm for several decades now.

As the bill states, all agencies of the military would be required to pass an independent analysis of their finances on an annual basis. This would start in the 2022 fiscal year.

For every year that an agency isn’t able to pass the audit cleanly, 1% of their total budget would end up being given back to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Sanders, an independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, co-sponsored this new bill along with Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon, and Republicans Mike Lee from Utah and Chuck Grassley from Iowa.

In a statement, the senators said:

“The Pentagon and the military industrial complex have been plagued by a massive amount of waste, fraud and financial mismanagement for decades. That is absolutely unacceptable. If we are serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively, we have got to end the absurdity of the Pentagon being the only agency in the federal government that has not passed an independent audit.”

In December of 2017, the Department of Defense underwent a major, comprehensive audit that sought to go through all of its books line by line. It was the first audit of its kind the agency had ever undergone.

Unfortunately, the DOD failed that initial audit — and the following two that took place in the next two years.

The result of those audits is what is known as a “disclaimer of opinion.” In this case, there were accounting records the independent firm needed to complete the audit, but they weren’t available at that time.

Since 1990, Congress has mandated that all federal agencies comply with an annual audit that’s conducted by the Government Accountability Office. Every agency has been able to meet those requirements since the 2013 fiscal year — except the Pentagon.

In fact, the Pentagon hasn’t been able to meet the requirements because it hasn’t detailed its liabilities and assets in any given year. The major issue with this is that the Pentagon accounts for more than 50% of the discretionary budget in the country.

The co-sponsors of the bill say they believe the failure to meet the audits come from financial mismanagement for multiple years. That has resulted in redundant efforts, cost overruns on programs and even misplaced funds.

As the statement read:

“We’ve seen example after example of excessive and inefficient spending by the Pentagon, and every dollar squandered is a dollar not being used to support our men and women in uniform. After 30 years to get ready, this bill pushes the Defense Department to finally achieve a clean annual audit — a requirement that every other federal agency is held to.”