Bipartisan senators unveiled legislation on Thursday to audit the Department of Defense (DOD).
Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) proposed the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2023, which would require the Pentagon to pass a full, independent audit in fiscal year 2024. The legislation would also require any DOD component that fails to complete the audit to return one percent of its budget to the Treasury.
Paul said in a written statement:
Accountability and transparency are the bedrock of responsible democracy. No institution is above scrutiny, especially the Department of Defense which has the largest budget of any federal agency and is charged with carrying out the greatest constitutional responsibility. We need to ensure that our defense spending is accurate, accountable, and in the best interest of American Taxpayers.
The Pentagon received backlash earlier this year when it failed an audit for the fifth time and was unable to account for 61 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. The House Oversight Committee said in March that it would launch an investigation into the DOD’s failure to complete a full audit.
“The Pentagon and the military industrial complex have been plagued by a massive amount of waste, fraud, and financial mismanagement for decades. That is absolutely unacceptable,” the Vermont progressive wrote. “If we are serious about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively, we have got to end the absurdity of the Pentagon being the only agency in the federal government that has never passed an independent audit.”
From buying $14,000 toilet seats to losing track of warehouses full of spare parts, the Department of Defense has been plagued by wasteful spending for decades. Every dollar the Pentagon squanders is a dollar not used to support service members, bolster national security or strengthen military readiness. The Department of Defense should have to meet the same annual auditing standards as every other agency.
The Pentagon also said on Tuesday that it miscalculated the value of U.S. military equipment, which allows for the government to grant Ukraine an additional $6.2 billion in equipment.