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Senators to Air Force: Clean up bookkeeping

Jun. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Three leading senators today blasted the Air Force for not doing enough to clean up its financial books, and urged the service to meet its congressionally mandated deadlines for accountability.

The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Defense Department’s Statement of Budgetary Resources to be able to pass an audit by the end of fiscal 2014. Congress also ordered the Air Force to have its consolidated financial statements audit-ready by the end of fiscal 2017 — a directive included in the the fiscal 2010 NDAA.

But the Air Force risks missing those deadlines, then-Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

In a letter to acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said “the Air Force cannot continue to avoid accountabilty by delaying auditability.”

“It is deeply disturbing that acting chief management officer of the Air Force Jamie Morin believes the Air Force is on a ‘risky path’ to auditability,” the senators said. “The Air Force must make quantifiable strides to meet statutory deadlines and achieve full auditability.”

Coburn, McCain and Ayotte asked for a staff briefing on July 15, and requested written responses to 12 questions by July 8, including, “If the Air Force does not meet the 2014 and 2017 audit deadlines, which Air Force official should Congress hold responsible?”

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the Air Force has received the senators’ letter and will respond to their questions, but had no further comment.

The Air Force’s auditability efforts were dealt a major blow in March, when the service canceled its failed Expeditionary Combat Support System. That system, which cost $1 billion, was supposed to fix long-standing problems with the Air Force’s management of equipment such as spare parts and vehicle maintenance. But after multiple warnings from the Government Accountability Office about mismanagement, the Air Force terminated the program’s contract.

The senators said the government needs to avoid “colossal waste[s] of taxpayer money” such as ECSS while refocusing its efforts to improve auditability.

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