"Despite the fact that the Pentagon is the largest and most expensive department in the federal government, it has never passed a financial audit” – Congressman Peter DeFazio
The lack of financial accountability in the Defense Department has been an ongoing scandal of the highest order. From the Oregonian’s PolitiFact article “DeFazio says the Pentagon can’t track its budget; we audit the claim” (here):
….. And in yet another 2010 report, the GAO found that the Pentagon’s effort to install a system to make itself "auditable" were taking on the personality of a new weapons system - over budget and behind schedule. In this case, the GAO said that two-thirds of the systems the Department of Defense is putting in place
to make its budget auditable have slipped years in implementation and doubled in cost -- to more than $13 billion.
The GAO also showed why the ability of the Pentagon to audit itself is important. Among the problems:
- The Army can’t be sure that it doesn’t overdraw its personnel expenditures account, which funds soldier pay, enlistment bonuses and other benefits;
- The Defense Department still can’t "reliably identify, aggregate and report the full cost of its investment" in weapons systems — currently estimated at more than $1 trillion — and doesn’t have enough information to manage and reduce the billions it spends each year on weapons operations and support costs;
The Pentagon does not dispute DeFazio’s claim.
In an appearance before the Senate Budget Committee in March, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared that the department would be fully auditable by 2014 instead of waiting until 2017. He acknowledged it’s "crazy" that the department is still unable to audit its finances. "That's, frankly, something we owe the taxpayer," he said.
Therefore, with the audit of DeFazio’s statement complete, we rate his claim: True.