WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at the Full Committee's first hearing entitled, "Department of Defense Update on the Financial Improvement and Audit Remediation (FIAR) Plan." For testimony and other information and to watch the hearing click here.
"The Committee welcomes Mr. David Norquist, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer, as our witness today. The topic is the audit of the Department of Defense, which by law begins this fiscal year.
Requiring that the Department conduct an audit has been a bipartisan priority of this Committee for some time. The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 required that all federal departments conduct an annual financial audit and partly out of frustration with a lack of progress toward that end, the 2010 NDAA required that the financial statements of the Department be ready for audit by September 30, 2017 and codified the plan for doing so. This Committee's Panel on Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform put close scrutiny on the Department's efforts and issued a number of recommendations that have enabled us to arrive at this point. The FY 2014 NDAA again required a full audit be conducted of the Department's FY 2018 financial statements, the results of which are to be delivered next year.
I want to commend Chairman Conaway for his expertise and his persistence on this issue, as well as Mr. Courtney, who was also a member of the Audit Panel. They will both be glad to know that we have had additional Members join this Committee in recent years who can also contribute their background and expertise to this issue as it moves ahead.
This issue is important. Members of this Committee hear evidence every week that we are not providing our military with the funding they need to carry out the missions they have been assigned. We must spend more. At the same time, we have a responsibility to the American people to see that each of their tax dollars being spent to protect them is being spent in a transparent way with appropriate accountability.
We should never assume that an audit will solve the problems of waste and inefficiency. But it seems to me that an essential requirement of spending money smarter is knowing with certainty how it is being spent.
It is likely that the result of the first audit will not be pretty, but those results will help direct us all – Congress and the Department – on where we need to apply our efforts to improve. This is important, and this Committee will continue to pursue it."