Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services; Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform; Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security; Rep. John Garamendi, Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness; Rep. Betty McCollum, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and Reps. Elaine G. Luria, Sara Jacobs, Scott Peters, and Jackie Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker urging the Department of the Navy to immediately suspend its ongoing cuts to the budget and staff of the Naval Audit Service (NAS).
According to public reports and the Navy’s fiscal year 2022 budget request, the Navy intends to reduce the NAS budget over the next two fiscal years by about 70% and downsize its personnel strength from about 290 people to just 85.  The Navy has begun encouraging NAS employees to retire early or risk being reassigned to alternate positions, leading to the resignation of approximately 75 NAS personnel this fiscal year alone.
“The Navy’s hasty attempts to downsize the NAS have already resulted in the exodus of dozens of talented and experienced oversight professionals, which will likely have lasting and damaging impacts on the agency’s ability to do its critical audit and investigations work,” the Members wrote.  “As the Committees of jurisdiction for the Department of Defense and the responsible stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars, we urge you to immediately suspend all ongoing and proposed future NAS staffing and funding reductions, pending additional consultation with Congress.”
In late 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) sponsored a study “to identify potential opportunities to streamline processes” across its audit, investigation, inspection, and oversight agencies.  However, in a June 2021 information paper provided to Chairman Lynch and Reps. Luria, Jacobs, and Peters, the Navy conceded that the DOD study is not expected to be completed until September 2021.
“We have serious reservations about your stated justification for pursuing these cuts, as well as the Navy’s apparent failure to examine whether downsizing the NAS will do lasting harm to the Navy’s ability to conduct effective oversight of its expenditures and operations.  This oversight capability is especially critical considering the possible expansion of the fleet and the Navy’s history with failed acquisitions and major cost overruns,” the Members wrote.
The Members asked Acting Secretary Harker to confirm that the Navy will suspend its ongoing cuts to the NAS by July 6, 2021.  They also requested that the Navy produce by July 13, 2021, documents previously requested by Chairman Lynch, Congresswoman Luria, Congressman Peters, and Congresswoman Jacobs in a May 27, 2021, letter to Acting Secretary Harker.
Click here to read today’s letter.