Coburn: DoD must follow the money

Wednesday - 2/2/2011, 1:43pm EST

By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is urging the Defense Department to account for how its money is being spent before cutting department funds.

Coburn said in a letter to military leaders Tuesday that until DoD can produce an auditable financial opinion, service leaders cannot "make informed decisions when it comes to identifying cost saving initiatives."

"I will continue to push for a budget-freeze of all base budget non-military personnel accounts at the Department of Defense until it complies with the law regarding auditable financial statements," Coburn wrote in the letter.

Coburn, who recently served on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said improvements in financial management would "yield savings and prevent cuts to military personnel and programs which could occur otherwise."

This is the second time issues of wasteful spending and financial mismanagement in DoD have been the focus of lawmakers in working to reduce the national debt.

Last September, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also addressed this issue saying, "If you don't follow the money, how are you going to know if it's wasted?"

Both senators are concerned with the history of Government Accountability Office's annual reports which have shown auditors have not been able to form an opinion of the DoD for the last 14 years.

In his letter, Coburn said Congress has proposed "reductions in defense acquisition and investment accounts as well as reforms to operation and maintenance, health care and personnel policies."

As a precautionary measure to these cuts, Coburn asked the chiefs of staff to "carefully consider the potential savings that could accrue from improvement in the Department of Defense's financial management."

"Your [chiefs of staff's] active engagement on this financial improvement and audit readiness - not just tepid and temporary endorsement - is critical to its success and for resource savings," Coburn said.

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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