WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is falling short in its efforts to combat fraud in defense contracts, according to a draft federal audit obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The Government Accountability Office report, to be made public Monday, credits Defense Department leaders with making some progress in establishing systems to find and root out fraud. But the audit nonetheless documents several ways military and civilian officials are lagging in their efforts.
The auditors cited examples of major defense organizations, such as the Army, not naming representatives to a year-old task force on fighting fraud and not conducting assessments of risks that are recommended in official guidance.
The audit focused on activities during fiscal 2020, when the Pentagon spent $422 billion on contracts.
From fiscal years 2013 to 2017, over $6.6 billion was recovered from defense contracting fraud cases, the report said. In 2020, nearly 20 percent of the 1,716 investigations run by the department’s inspector general were about procurement fraud.
“The scope and scale of this activity makes DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud,” the GAO said.
The Pentagon’s efforts to fight such crimes is “a work in progress,” the auditors concluded.
“Given the billions of dollars DOD spends annually on procurement, failing to manage and mitigate fraud effectively may ultimately adversely affect DOD’s ability to support the warfighter,” they said.
The lawmakers who requested the report expressed dismay about its findings.
“The Pentagon doesn’t seem to want to get serious about combating the fraud, waste, and financial mismanagement that has been its legacy for decades,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Budget Committee, one of two lawmakers who requested the report.