The Defense Department audit that is underway will allow leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Congress to find better ways to account for taxpayers’ dollars, DoD’s chief financial officer said Aug. 8.
In an interview with WGAN radio in Portland, Maine, Pentagon Comptroller David L. Norquist said the audit’s results should be available in the fall.
“We normally have audits of individual programs, but this one is the entire department, so it verifies account, location, condition of our inventory, all the equipment, test for security vulnerabilities and validating personnel records and payments,” he said.
Next year’s fiscal year defense budget, for example, is set at $717 billion. The audit looks at all property, all equipment and all personnel, and it ensures accountability and provides transparency for the American taxpayer, the chief financial officer said.
Thousands of DOD auditors worldwide are involved in the process, Norquist said, and the department will do this every year. He said the audit invariably will find faults that will need to be corrected. Having an audit allows leaders to make changes and then ensure those changes are doing what is intended, Norquist said.
“One of the things that often happens with audits is the public goes, ‘Well, what became of it?’” he said. “‘What did people do?’” Each year, he said, the public will see what the findings were, what was fixed and what remains to be done. “So it’ll be an annual process, and as I like to say to the workforce, it will go on as long as we both shall live,” Norquist said.
Audits are valuable in that they find challenges, he said. “Often, those are areas where people are doing things manually or the data is not compatible,” he added, “and when you streamline them, you get more efficiencies [and] you get more savings.”
Already, he said, the Navy saved $65 million by transmitting things in a more automated and complete format. “We expect to see more of that across the organization,” Norquist said.
Another result, he said, is the organization gets better data quality for decision making.
“When getting ready for the audit, the Army identified 39 Black Hawk helicopters that were not properly in its property system,” Norquist said. “Now, the person who had them knew they were there, but if the department was looking across its inventory, it would not have seen [them].”
The audit also is part of implementing the new National Defense Strategy, Norquist said, noting that the strategy shifts DOD’s focus to developing the capabilities needed to prevail in high-end conflicts against China and Russia.
“And so, you’ll see a series of investments that followed in that,” Norquist said, “and this received a great deal of bipartisan support.”