So the Pentagon can't track its own property or finances. Is that a bad thing?

Sunday, July 09, 2006 at 05:32 PM

A group called Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities has issued a report concluding that "No One is Accountable" for financial management in the Department of Defense.

Among the report's specific conclusions:

among other things, the report states:
++The Defense Department is out of Compliance with the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990, which was passed to hold government agencies to the tough accounting practices applied to the private sector, and compliance is nowhere on the horizon.

++DOD does not know what it owns, where its inventory is located, and how its annual budget is being spent. The Department is not accountable to Congress or the American taxpayer.

++The Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office--which could be considered the public sector equivalents of accounting firms--share responsibility for the failure of the DOD to come into compliance with accounting laws. They have failed to specify the steps required of DOD to comply with basic accounting practices.

++Congress should grant the DOD Comptroller authority to hire and fire personnel as needed to accomplish the goal of bringing the DOD into compliance with generally accepted accounting principles. If the Comptroller--armed with the proper management authority to fix financial problems-- then fails to achieve compliance, then he or she should be replaced by the President.

Granted that the group producing the study is likely an opponent of government spending, but the conclusions are far from flattering to the Pentagon generally or Donald Rumsfeld specifically, in his role as Secretary of Defense.

If only there was a way of producing a similar report on the competence of the Executive Branch as a whole.