Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), a Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, welcomed the Department of Defense (DoD) first-ever agency-wide financial audit in its history. In 2006, it was discovered that $8.5 trillion given to the Department of Defense since 1996 was unaccounted for, due in part to its complex bookkeeping systems. Equally troubling, early last year, it was exposed by the Washington Post that DoD tried to bury the results of a study they commissioned that identified $125 billion in wasteful spending.
"As President Eisenhower warned, "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.' The bloated budget at the Department of Defense has become what President Eisenhower prophesized. It is long past time for the Pentagon to undergo an audit of its assets. After reports of $125 billion of waste at the DoD and years of repeatedly authorizing bloated defense budgets--this audit is a welcome first step," said Congressman DeSaulnier.
Congressman DeSaulnier introduced the Department of Defense Waste Reduction Act (H.R. 2367) to prevent DoD from receiving any additional funding until wasteful spending practices within the Department are addressed. Additionally, he and Congresswoman Jackie Speier called for congressional hearings to investigate DoD's spending practices. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform responded and held a hearing on this topic. In 2009, Congress passed a law requiring DoD to be audit-ready by 2017.
"We should spend the money we need on ensuring our nation's security, but Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse damage our ability to do that. All too often, funds in the DOD budget vanish into a bureaucratic black hole, and neither taxpayers nor senior military leaders can figure out where the money is going. A thorough, agency-wide audit of DoD spending is long overdue. Frankly, we can't afford not to audit the Defense Department," said Rosa Brooks, author, a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, a columnist for Foreign Policy, and a law professor at Georgetown University.
"We must insist on greater accountability to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in a transparent and thoughtful manner. Since coming to Congress, I have not voted in favor of the annual bill to authorize defense spending and will continue to oppose the measure until the DoD has completed a full audit and I am confident taxpayers' hard earned money is spent in an open, transparent, and efficient manner that also ensures our troops' safety," DeSaulnier concluded.