Audit: Pentagon lags in fight against fraud

John M. Donnelly, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform, was the other.

“This failure to safeguard taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable, and I urge the Biden Administration to quickly and fully implement GAO’s recommendations and put the Defense Department on a path to operate more efficiently and effectively, with the confidence that it is not spending money on fraudulent contracts,” Maloney said in a statement.

Sluggish response

In the auditors’ report, they cited signs that some in the Defense Department may not be treating the problem with the urgency it deserves.

For example, the department created in 2020 a task force to improve officials’ focus on fraud and gave the military services and other components one week to name representatives.


A year later, nearly 20 percent of the 59 seats on the task force were not filled, the GAO said. The Army — which spent about $100 billion on contracts in fiscal 2020, or nearly a quarter of the department’s total — is among the components without a representative, the report said.

Another sign of a torpid response to the problem, the auditors said, is the failure of major parts of the Defense Department to conduct fraud risk assessments. In fact, three organizations that together obligated $180.1 billion in fiscal 2020 have so far failed to conduct the reviews: the Air Force, the Army and the Washington Headquarters Service, which administers and manages operations at the Pentagon and other facilities.

The fraud at issue takes several forms, the report said. For instance, contractors can overbill for their products, falsify their prices to win a bid, use counterfeit parts, bill for work that was not performed or disguise conflicts of interest.

Sanders, in his statement, said the report shows that the Pentagon does not “want to get serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively.” He called that “absolutely unacceptable.”

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