A new congressional panel will take a hard look into DoD financial management processes and procedures. DoD Comptroller Bob Hale has told Congress that steady progress is being made to meet DoD’s financial management goals and the military services and defense agencies are spending $1 billion on financial management improvement and audit readiness. Nevertheless, over the past few years there has been a steady drumbeat of congressional criticism over DoD’s inability to achieve a clean audit.
Yesterday, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chair Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Ranking Republican Adam Smith (D-WA) announced the committee had formed a bi-partisan panel to “address the ongoing challenge of financial management in the Pentagon.” Rep. Mike Conoway (R-TX) and Rep. Ron Andrews (D-NJ) were selected to head the panel.
The announcement identified several issues the panel will address. 1) the timeliness, reliability, the usefulness of information financial management systems provide to decision makers; 2) DoD financial management systems’ ability to identify efficiencies and waste; 3) the proficiency of DoD’s financial management personnel in financial and budgeting accounting and their ability to manage defense resources; 4) the effectiveness of the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) plan.
The selection of Conoway and Andrews is significant because they led the HASC’s acquisition management reform panel. That panel’s work produced wide-ranging recommendations to revamp DoD’s acquisition management system and led directly to the IMPROVE Acquisition Act of 2010, which was included in the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act. It remains to be seen if the new HASC DoD financial management panel’s efforts will be similar in scope to those of the acquisition panel. If they are, the long-term effect on the management of DoD’s financial resources could be significant.
These panels don’t prove their usefulness by saying everyone is doing everything possible and success will just take time. I’m sure the panel will say, “DoD FMers are highly trained and highly competent…NOT!” Not enough money to train current employees, fill vacancies, fix legecy systems, etc. There are consequences to non-programmatic budget cuts!