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Sunday, February 25th, 2024

Bill targets defense budget transparency, accountability

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A group of lawmakers recently introduced a measure that increases defense budget transparency and accountability.

U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) have detailed the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2023 in the wake of the Pentagon failing its fifth consecutive audit as of November 2022. 

The lawmakers cited a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicating the Department of Defense (DoD) continues to be unable to account for billions of dollars worth of assets.

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility to demand transparency and accountability from all government agencies, including the Department of Defense,” Burgess said. “It is unacceptable that the DoD has yet to complete a full financial audit, unlike other major agencies. While some progress has been made, more needs to be done to ensure that the DoD is fully compliant with the law. By incentivizing a full audit and reducing funding for unauditable departments, we can hold the DoD accountable and ensure proper oversight. Our duty to the American people requires no less.”

The bill would administer a 0.5 percent cut to the budget of any Pentagon office that does not receive an audit for the first year of the bill’s enactment, then rises to 1.0 percent in subsequent years. Additionally, it exempts funding for personnel, families, and military health care from the automatic cuts.

“The lack of accountability and transparency at the Pentagon is simply outrageous,” Lee said. “Congress pours trillions of taxpayer dollars into the Pentagon, but we still have no clear idea how that money is being spent. The Pentagon’s inability to responsibly manage billions of taxpayer dollars allocated every year is unacceptable.”