The Defense Department has failed to properly notify Congress of hundreds of millions of dollars in misspent funds, several lawmakers wrote Tuesday in a letter to the Pentagon’s chief financial officer and comptroller.
The letter to undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale, written by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and co-signed by 12 other senators and representatives cites violations of the Antideficiency Act totaling $817 million. The violations were identified by DoD but were never reported to Congress, the lawmakers wrote, citing reports by the DoD Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.
The findings “are particularly noteworthy given that in recent testimony before Congress, you have testified that …generally, our violations of the Antideficiency Act… are quite low, very much lower I might add, than non-defense agencies taken as a whole.'”, the legislators wrote. “Further, you have indicated that how positively DoD has performed in terms of ADA violations is evidence that the Department is generally doing well on financial management.”
The violations were related to budgets in 2005 and 2008, according to a statement from Carper’s office.
The Antideficiency Act prohibits agencies from spending or obligating more money than Congress has authorized from a particular fund or for a particular purpose. In the event an agency determines it has violated the act, it is required to report “immediately to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken.”
The act carries both administrative and criminal penalties; knowing and willful violations can bring up to five years in prison.
In the letter, lawmakers ask Hale to explain why the violations were never reported, when Congress can expect to be formally notified, and what the department is doing to expedite reporting of violations in the future.
The letter comes in advance of a Thursday hearing during which Hale and the comptrollers of the individual military services are expected to testify on the status of efforts to improve DoD financial management. The hearing will be before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal financial management, which Carper chairs.
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