In a memo, obtained by Breitbart, to the Department of Defense after it had failed the first-ever, department-wide audit, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told his employees this is more than fiscal responsibility, but it is also about maintaining the trust of Congress and the American people.
“This audit is about more than financial management. It is about ensuring our military remains the most lethal fighting force in the world, across the battlefields of today and tomorrow,” Mattis wrote.
“To those agencies receiving a clean opinion, well done. To those who have more work to do — know that I intended the audit to detect problems. Identifying areas for improvement is the only way to ensure we craft effective solutions. In the days and months ahead, I expect all of you to implement the corrective action plans necessary for ensuring lasting, positive change at the speed of relevance. There can be no room for complacency.”
“Together we must uphold the trust Congress and the American people have placed in us as honorable stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars. Embrace the findings, fix the problems,” he instructed.
During a press gaggle with reporters on Thursday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said they did not expect to pass the audit.
“So first is, we never thought we were going to pass an audit, right? Everybody was betting against us, that we wouldn't even do the audit,” he said. “And then, what we've been doing since early on in the audit is we've been getting preliminary findings, OK? And … and the real work we've been doing is let's not count the findings. We need to put corrective action. We need to develop the plans to address the findings, and actually, put corrective actions in place.”
The audit was conducted by over 1,200 auditors and examined “financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel, and property,” according to a statement from the DOD:
“Multiple DOD organizations received the highest rating of unmodified or “clean” audit opinions, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Civil Works; the Military Retirement Fund; Defense Health Agency – Contract Resource Management; Defense Contract Audit Agency; and the Defense Finance and Accounting Services Working Capital Fund. The Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund and the Defense Commissary Agency received modified opinions, which means they do not comply with generally accepted accounting principles but financial statements are fairly presented.”
“The department started the audit in December 2017 in order to find problems and fix them. DOD is committed to fixing these issues and continuing to improve the ability to defend the nation while being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” they added.