Army's payroll problems threaten auditability goals, GAO says

Thursday - 3/22/2012, 11:03am EDT

This story will be updated after the hearing today.

The Government Accountability Office will release a report this morning detailing problems with the Army's payroll system — challenges that threaten the Defense Department's ability to be audit-ready.

GAO found the Army could not identify a "complete population of Army payroll accounts" for fiscal 2010, said Asif Khan, director of financial management and assurance at GAO, in his written testimony,

It took the Army three months to provide a list of servicemembers who receive active-duty Army military pay, Khan said.

DoD also could not locate supporting documentation for some of its pay accounts, according to the GAO testimony.

Active Army military payroll was $46.1 billion for fiscal 2010 and therefore "significant to DoD's audit readiness goals," Khan said.

Congress has told the Pentagon it must reach full auditability of its consolidated financial statements by the end of 2017. Last fall, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the department to have its budgetary resources, one part of the overall audit, ready by 2014.

A House Oversight subcommittee will hear testimony today from GAO and defense officials.

One of the witnesses to testify is Kirk Zecchini, a member of the Ohio Army National Guard. Zecchini will detail how it took 1-1/2 months on two separate occasions to receive his pay, once while he was deployed to Afghanistan and another time to Iraq.

"Dealing with pay problems while in a combat zone is not something that anyone should have to worry about, yet this was my second episode in as many tours," Zecchini said in his prepared remarks.

Army officials will tell the House subcommittee that the service is making progress on fixing its payroll problems.

Jeanne Brooks, the director of technology and business architecture integration in the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, will testify that the service is developing the Integrated Personnel and Pay System for all Army components.

"No longer will there be separate personnel and pay databases. Digital signatures, strong audit capabilities, a built-in rules engine, and a strict roles and permissions structure will further ensure accuracy and internal control for military pay," Brooks will testify, according to her written testimony.

Brooks will also tell the subcommittee that the Army is considering the expansion of its personnel management system "to include the full spectrum of pay supporting documentation."

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