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House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) plans to offer this week an Audit the Pentagon floor amendment to HR 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2014. It is a bipartisan amendment that is cosponsored by Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

The House Rules Committee will decide late Wednesday June 12 if the amendment (#151) will be debated on the floor (hundreds of amendments were submitted for the huge defense bill).

The amendment is very modest version of her bipartisan bill, HR 559, "The Audit the Pentagon Act". The NDAA bill as reported does little about the problem except repeat previous platitudes. This is the kind of common sense leadeship that can actually help solve problems.

Below the fold: how the amendment addresses the Pentagon accounting crisis

The problem: The Pentagon accounting crisis

The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and other laws require almost every federal agency to routinely pass an audit. Of the 24 major agencies, only DOD is "unauditable," according to the GAO. The Treasury Dept's Financial Report of the US Government (FRUSG) for fiscal year 2012 shows that DOD yet again has nothing to audit -- its books are a complete mess.

In the last dozen years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when DOD would pass an audit. Meanwhile, Congress doubled Pentagon spending. No new laws are needed to compel the audit, and the usual blue-ribbon commission has already reported.

The only way the Pentagon will ever fix its accounting is if its chronic failure to properly account for taxpayer money begins to affect its budget.

The solution:  Create mild incentive to comply with audit law

As prepared, the Lee-Burgess-Schakowsky Audit the Pentagon amendment would slightly reduce FY2014 spending for any military department or defense agency that does not pass an audit on its FY2013 spending.

Any savings go to deficit reduction.

The amendment would apply to each military department and defense agency separately, leaving unaffected those which pass an audit. For example, the Marines would be held harmless if they could pass an audit while the Air Force was unauditable. This creates an incentive for each service to get its house in order.

Specifically, in FY2014 the amendment would impose a very small (.5%, one-half of one percent) reduction in the Budget Authority of any military department or defense agency that did not have at least a qualified (meaning OK, with some reservations) audit for FY2013.

Within the department or agency, SecDef would have discretion to apply any cuts in manner to minimize effect on national security.

Exempted from any cuts would be certain military personnel and health accounts.

If you like this: Rep. Lee's citizen co-signer petition for her bill:

10:43 PM PT: Thur June 13 at 1:30am DC time:  Bad news. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee (which sets the terms of floor debate) did NOT allow consideration of the Lee-Burgess-Schakowsky Audit the Pentagon amendment (#151). We may never learn more about why. Hundreds of amendments were submitted, and about 166 were permitted -- some important and others less so. One thing is for sure: we will be back in coming months! Thanks to all who commented and rec'd this diary.

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