Army on track to auditablity and oversight

Tuesday - 2/14/2012, 11:53am EST

Jim Watkins, director of accountability and audit readiness, U.S. Army

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The pressure to cut spending is forcing the Army, like the rest of the Defense Department, to rethink how it spends money. The President's 2013 budget would cut Pentagon spending by $5 billion, and the Army is taking the bulk of personnel cuts — 72,000 soldiers — as defense leaders try to save money.

"We're improving our financial and business processes in such a way that we can provide better information to our leaders and our managers," Jim Watkins, the Army's director of accountability and audit readiness, told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin Tuesday.

"We want to demonstrate to the American taxpayers that we're good stewards of the resources that taxpayers have provided," Watkins said. "We can do that with an auditable financial statement that we can get a clean audit opinion from an independent public accounting firm. That's driving the change."

In 1990, the federal government passed the Chief Financial Officers Act, followed by the Government Management Reform Act in 1994, which mandated that all departments with CFOs would have to provide auditable financial statements.

Until those laws were passed, the DoD, including the Army, had been providing an accounting of the appropriations that Congress provided. The new mandate meant that the DoD would have to install new Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) for reporting its finances. The Army expects to have its new General Fund ERP completed by July.

The new system, which is called the General Fund Enterprise Business System, will provide auditable financial statements.

"We're working on a competent workforce," Watkins said. "We're working on accountablity, oversight, business architecture, implementing new systems and improving internal controls."

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