Pentagon Has Novel Spin on Results of First Audit

Yes, we failed, but we knew we would, says Pentagon official
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2018 9:08 AM CST
The Pentagon in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

(Newser) – The Pentagon has just provided every kid who brings home a lousy test score with a possible new defense: "We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it." So says Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in putting the best possible spin on the results of a long-awaited audit of the department—in fact, the first comprehensive one in the Pentagon's history, reports Reuters. Congress ordered the audit back in 1990, but defense officials didn't begin one until last December. "It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial," Shanahan said. Full details have not yet been released, but CNN reports that all branches of the military received "disclaimers," meaning they had problems to address.

"We spent approximately $406 million on audit remediation and $153 million on financial system fixes," says a Pentagon statement. One general area mentioned as needing improvement: inventory accuracy. CNN notes that no fraud was uncovered. Shanahan said that since this was the first audit, the real test will come when next year's results provide a basis for comparison. A Pentagon spokesman, meanwhile, softened Shanahan's "we failed" comment. "To clarify, the audit is not a 'pass-fail' process," he says. "We did not receive an 'adverse' finding—the lowest possible category—in any area." He added, however, that "clearly, more work lies ahead of us." (Read more on how and why the audit came to be here.)

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