Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pentagon auditors unable to keep pace with spending: report - (AFP)


Pentagon auditors unable to keep pace with spending: report

by Staff Writers

Washington (AFP) May 27, 2008

The Pentagon's internal watchdog office has warned in a report to Congress made public Tuesday that its auditors are unable to keep pace with a ballooning US defense budget.

The rapid growth of the defense budget to more than 600 billion dollars "leaves the department increasingly more vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse," the Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General said.

The March 2008 report said the office's ability to adequately cover high risk areas and defense priorities "has become strained due to the fact that our staffing levels have remained nearly constant."

"Furthermore, the demand for IG services to support the GWOT (global war on terrorism) and the ongoing operations in Southwest Asia has forced us to readjust priorities," it said.

The result has been "gaps in coverage in important areas, such as major weapons systems acquisition, health care fraud, product substitution, and defense intelligence agencies."

The agency said that to expand its work force it needed 25 million dollars more in funding in 2009 than the 247 million dollars requested by the administration.

The report was made public by the Project on Government Oversight, a private non-profit group dedicated to exposing waste and corruption in government.

Nick Schwellenbach, the group's national security investigator, said, "It's stunning that we've been spending so much for so long with so little oversight."

Whereas in 1997 there was one auditor for each 642 million dollars in Pentagon contracts, in 2007 the ratio was one auditor for each 2.03 billion dollars in contracts, according to the report.

It said 152 billion dollars in money spent on weapons acquisitions in 2007 received insufficient audit coverage.

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