GAO cannot give opinion on federal government's finances

Friday - 12/23/2011, 1:36pm EST

By Jolie Lee
@jleewfed
Federal News Radio

The Government Accountability Office said it cannot render an opinion on the federal government's 2011 consolidated financial statements due to "widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations," according to a GAO release.

Every year, the Treasury secretary, with the director of the Office of Management and Budget, must submit financial statements to the President and Congress. GAO audits these statements.

GAO said the main obstacles to an audit were problems with Defense Department financial statements and the overall government's "ineffective process" for preparing consolidated financial statements.

"The comprehensive fiscal projections presented in the 2011 Financial Report show that - absent policy changes - the federal government continues to face an unsustainable long-term fiscal path," said Gene Dodaro, comptroller general and head of GAO, in a statement.

"While the Budget Control Act of 2011 improved the outlook, it did not fundamentally change the longer-term path over the next few decades. Dealing with the federal government's longer-term fiscal challenges will require sustained attention and difficult decisions," Dodaro said. "These fiscal challenges further highlight the need for the Congress, the administration, and federal managers to have reliable and complete financial and performance information both for individual federal entities and for the federal government as a whole."

Dodaro also cited "material weaknesses" related to $115.3 billion in improper payments across government.

RELATED STORIES

DoD plans more formalized training for financial managers

Agencies cut improper payments by $18 billion