A Senate Budget Committee hearing about the first-ever comprehensive audit of the Defense Department produced some sharp questions and colorful comments from lawmakers Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) wondered why an organization that can “turn entire countries into craters” has never been able to account for its finances. “How in the world is it that in 2018, with all the massive capabilities the Pentagon has, this is the first time the Pentagon is able to conduct an audit? What is going on with the culture? What’s wrong?” Corker asked.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that when he tells his constituents that “every other agency in the federal government undergoes an audit but the Department of Defense … they think I belong in a straightjacket.” And Kennedy charged military contractors with using the failure to conduct audits to rip off taxpayers. “We’ve got … some hogs who have all four feet and their snout in the trough. And we got to find out who they are gentlemen,” Kennedy said.
Pentagon CFO David Norquist said he hopes to complete an initial audit, which will cost more than $300 million and involve an estimated 1,200 analysts, this year. But he warned that it could take much longer – and presumably a lot more money – for the Defense Department to clean up its act so that it can pass a clean audit. Norquist noted that it took the Department of Homeland Security 10 years to produce its first clean result.