Senate votes to require DHS clean audit by 2013

Thursday - 11/29/2012, 6:49pm EST

The Homeland Security Department would be required to conduct and pass a full financial audit under a bill unanimously approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — all three high-ranking members of a Senate subcommittee on federal financial management — introduced the Department of Homeland Security Audit Requirement Target (DART) Act late last year.

The DART Act requires the agency, long characterized by the Government Accountability Office as being at high-risk for waste and abuse, to reach a clean audit opinion by 2013.

"Clean, auditable financial statements can provide the roadmap we need to identify potential savings, avoid waste and fraud, and move towards a culture of thrift," Carper, the subcommittee's chairman, said in a statement. "This bill requires some very important, but straightforward steps that will ensure the Department of Homeland Security can pass a financial audit."

The agency announced earlier this month it is audit-ready and "has made an attempt to pass a full-scope audit," according to Carper, but has yet to actually do so.

The bill also requires the agency's chief financial officer to submit to Congress a plan to modernize the agency's financial systems, which will be evaluated by the comptroller general.

Johnson said the bill is a necessary first step in "eliminating inefficient, wasteful and duplicative spending at the department."

A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Todd Platts (R-Penn.) last summer but remains stuck in committee.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the House passed a somewhat related measure, the DHS Accountability Act, which sets up an advisory commission to recommend improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of DHS management.

That bill's author, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), was selected by House Republican leadership to be the next chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

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