GREENSBORO, N.C. - 2 Wants To Know looks out for your money when you have an issue, and we uncover money issues for all tax payers. When government leaders take dollars out of your pocket - you expect them to know where it's going. And certainly you expect them to know how much they took from you. But some of the top level Department of Defense workers say that accountability -- is not always happening at the Pentagon. And get this: congressional leaders say the DOD has never passed a full independent audit. Never. It's the only government agency to fall in that category. And now the Pentagon is scrambling to make that happen to prevent waste.
In fact, just this week 2 Wants To Know told you the Pentagon plans to destroy more $1 billion dollars of excess ammunition. Why? Because of record keeping issues. Everything from bullets to missiles will be destroyed- some of which could still be used. Now senators on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee say it's time for Pentagon waste to end.
"In all likelihood the poor state of the department's books mask even more instances of waste and fraud," said Thomas Carper, Senator for Delaware.
In 2011, the Department of Defense set a goal to have all financial records ready for an audit. They wanted to do it by the end of this September. The Department of Defense's Chief Financial Officer says he will meet most of that goal. Most.
"Bottom line, I think we'll get there for most. But there may be a few that aren't ready by September 30. And we'll move as quickly as we can to fix those," DOD Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale said.
CHALLENGES TO AUDIT
Pentagon leaders estimate at least 80 percent of records will be ready for review on time. But they say the agency faces three big challenges:
- DOD's size. With a 700 billion dollar budget, it's the largest in the government.
- It's hard to find an independent auditor. All the companies big enough for the job already have other military contracts.
- Washington politics. Every time the government shuts down, DOD accountants have to redo the budget. That takes time away from work on the audit.
"Meeting this goal has been a challenge. Frankly more of a challenge than I expected," Hale said.
Still the Senators say it's time for excuses to end.
"We applaud your effort," said Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma. "But as my dad used to say sometimes effort isn't enough. You need to apply maybe a different tactic."