USA — Comptroller Explains New Financial Management System

WASHINGTON — A new approach is under­way to help Pen­ta­gon offi­cials bet­ter man­age Defense Depart­ment finances, the department’s top finan­cial offi­cers told Con­gress today.

Robert F. Hale, the department’s comp­trol­ler and chief finan­cial offi­cer, tes­ti­fied before the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty and Gov­ern­men­tal Affairs Com­mit­tee. He out­lined areas of finan­cial man­age­ment where the depart­ment is weak, as well as their goals for improve­ment.

“Com­man­ders tell me we are pro­vid­ing the resources and finan­cial ser­vices they need to meet our nation­al secu­ri­ty objec­tive,” Hale said. “But I also ful­ly under­stand there are enter­prise-wide weak­ness­es in DoD finan­cial man­age­ment that demand an enter­prise-wide busi­ness response.”

The depart­ment must improve the way it man­ages finan­cial infor­ma­tion such as auditable finan­cial state­ments, Hale said. “The lack of auditable finan­cial state­ments is an indi­ca­tion of those weak­ness­es, and it’s one of the busi­ness man­age­ment weak­ness­es that must be resolved,” he said.

Through a “new and focused” approach, how­ev­er, the depart­ment will improve its audit readi­ness by con­cen­trat­ing on improv­ing qual­i­ty and accu­ra­cy of infor­ma­tion, Hale said.

“This new approach, I think, has estab­lished a demand­ing, but mean­ing­ful, goal,” he said. “It will lead, for exam­ple, to auditabil­i­ty for the state­ment of bud­getary resources in all the ser­vices.

“The new approach is one to sup­port senior mil­i­tary and civil­ian per­son­nel; it’s been gen­er­al­ly endorsed by Con­gress, and it’s been called a rea­son­able approach by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office,” he con­tin­ued.

Most­ly impor­tant­ly, all of the mil­i­tary ser­vices and defense agen­cies are on board with the change and work­ing toward a com­mon goal, Hale said.

But, he added, while estab­lish­ing a goal is impor­tant, it won’t guar­an­tee suc­cess. “You’ve got to imple­ment that goal,” he said. “That’s the chal­lenge in a depart­ment that is right­ful­ly focused on win­ning the war in Afghanistan and com­plet­ing the mis­sion in Iraq.”

The depart­ment is work­ing toward near- and long-term goals to sup­port enter­prise resource plan­ning sys­tems that are impor­tant to work­ing toward and sus­tain­ing auditabil­i­ty, Hale said.

“I believe that, rely­ing on this plan for imple­men­ta­tion, we can meet the goal of auditabil­i­ty for infor­ma­tion we most use to man­age by 2017,” Hale said, not­ing that near-term goals have been set for two years to mea­sure progress. “I think our new, focused approach and our imple­men­ta­tion plan jus­ti­fies our opti­mism. We are all per­son­al­ly com­mit­ted to mov­ing for­ward.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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