On Wednesday, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord revealed that the Department of Defense had failed its sixth audit in a row, with no significant improvements over the last year.
“We are working hard to address audit findings as well as recommendations from the Government Accountability Office,” McCord said in a statement. “The Components are making good progress resulting in meaningful benefits, but we must do more.”
In a repeat of last year’s audit, just one in four of the Pentagon’s auditing units received a clean bill of financial health, though auditors made some progress in accounting for the agency’s $3.8 billion in assets. McCord said that a clean audit likely remains years away, according to Reuters.
The Pentagon remains the only federal agency to have never passed an audit. Its failure to make significant progress has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who called for an independent audit of the department.
“The recent failure of the Pentagon's 6TH audit couldn't make it clearer that we need accountability & transparency,” Paul posted on X. “No institution is above scrutiny, especially the DoD [with] the largest budget of ANY [federal] agency.”
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee also slammed the Pentagon for its financial troubles, arguing in a post on X that the department’s “inability to adequately track assets risks our military readiness and represents a flagrant disregard for taxpayer funds, even as it receives nearly a trillion dollars annually.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said the news showed that it’s “time to stop misdirecting hundreds of billions of dollars away from domestic and human needs to pad unnecessary budget lines for endless wars, failed weapons, & the Pentagon’s corporate handouts.”
The news could reinvigorate efforts to impose a 1 percent budget cut on any parts of the military that fail an audit, a policy that would “provide a much greater incentive to get financial books in order,” according to Jennifer Knox of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“[T]his isn’t just a matter of clean accounting; it’s a matter of security,” Knox argued. “Ensuring that defense dollars are spent effectively and appropriately will improve performance while reducing spending.”