House Floor amendments
None of the proposed amendments to HR 4435 satisfies the Audit the Pentagon Coalition Principles. Closest to the ideal would have been the one submitted last year by Reps. Lee, Burgess and Schakowsky. But the House Rules Committee did not allow its consideration last year and was unlikely to this year, so it was not submitted. In effect, there is not yet an opportunity for the kind of legislative action needed by Congress on the Pentagon accounting crisis.
The following proposed amendments to HR 4435 were submitted to the House Rules Committee May 19, 2014. The Rules Committee will decide which amendments may be considered on the House floor later this week. Among them, the Burgess/Lee ranking report amendment best satisfies the Coalition Principles and following criteria: potential to leverage action; potential to become law; bipartisan sponsors; solid defense policy; least potential to provide political cover for further years of delay.
The Coalition is grateful to all members who submitted amendments. All call attention to the issue. The Coalition hopes that reform voices inside and outside Congress will coalesce in coming months around one or two strong, clear legislative proposals that best satisfy the Coalition Principles.
87. Burgess (TX)/Lee (CA) (submitted #72) — Ranking report
Best amendment submitted.
What it would do: Requires a report ranking all military departments and Defense Agencies in order of how advanced they are in achieving auditable financial statements as required by law.
Details about Burgess/Lee ranking report amendment.
88. Takano (CA) (submitted #280) — Report on barriers
What it would do: Require report on barriers to certain audit reporting requirements.
Strengths: Could yield useful information. Calls attention to the audit issue.
Weaknesses: Imposes no immediate financial consequences. Treats DOD as a monolith.
7. Walz (MN) (submitted #140)
What it would do: Require an audit of DOD’s Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy office by the end of 2016. Expresses the Sense of Congress that a full audit of the entire Department of Defense should be completed by the end of 2017.
Strengths: Calls attention to the audit issue.
Weaknesses: Sense of Congress amendments usually have little effect. Treats DOD as a monolith.
120. Nolan (MN) (submitted #301) — Afghanistan construction projects
Incorporated in en bloc 6. Amendment text (PDF)
What it would do: Prohibits expenditure of funds from the bill for future projects over $500,000 “that cannot be audited and physically inspected by authorized United States Government civilian personnel or their designated representatives, in accordance generally-accepted auditing guidelines.” Allows agencies to waive the requirement if they submit a plan to monitor use of the funds.
Strengths: Is a real prohibition against spending that will not be accountable.
Coffman (CO), Patrick Murphy (FL) (#37) — Consequences in 2019 (not made in order)
What it would do: IF DOD fails to make an audit milestone in FY2015, then it requires additional qualifications of the DOD Comptroller and the three Service Assistant Secretaries nominated in 2016 or later, and allows the SecDef to prescribe those persons more duties. Later, if DOD failed to get a clean audit for FY2018, then in 2019: DOD would have less transfer authority; DOD’s Chief Management Officer would be promoted to number three official in DOD; DFAS would be transferred from DOD to the Treasury Department; and, the Defense Contract Audit Agency would report directly to CMO.
Strengths: Calls attention to the audit issue.
Weaknesses: Imposes no immediate financial consequences. Imposes no serious consequences for 5 years (in 2019), a date that could be easily slipped in a future defense bill. Also, if empowering the CMO and transfering DFAS to Treasury would help DOD pass an audit faster, then those changes should be done now instead of delayed 5 years. Treats DOD as a monolith.
DeFazio (OR), Garrett (NJ) (#233) — Salary reductions for failure to pass audit (not made in order)
What it would do: IF DOD fails to pass an audit for FY2017, there would be 10% reductions in the salaries of several senior officials of DOD and the military services.
Strengths: Imposes real consequences. Calls attention to the audit issue.
Weaknesses: Imposes no immediate financial consequences for DOD budgets. Treats DOD as a monolith. Imposes no serious consequences for 4 years, a date that could be easily slipped in a future defense bill. Some will say the salary reductions are unfair because the targeted officials don’t have the power alone to force the audit.