WASHINGTON (June 30, 2021) –– The R Street Institute applauds the introduction of the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021, led by bipartisan cosponsors Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Michael Burgess (R-TX). This bill would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve a clean financial audit or face reasonable funding restrictions on certain accounts. Funds that are not available to the DOD would go toward deficit reduction.

Nan Swift, a fellow with R Street’s Governance Program, stated, “A clean fiscal bill of health for the Department of Defense is nearly 30 years overdue. Other federal agencies managed to achieve this long-standing requirement by 2013, yet the Pentagon did not even initiate an agency-wide audit until FY2018. It may be true that the DOD is more sprawling and complicated than other facets of the federal government, but they have had three decades in which to attain a clean audit. Because the DOD is by far the largest recipient of discretionary tax dollars and because it is tasked with the critical role of maintaining our sovereignty and security, it is all the more important that everyone have a clear understanding of where and how the Pentagon is using our funds.”

R Street urges all Representatives to cosponsor this legislation and promote its enactment.


The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires that all federal agencies conduct annual audits of their financial statements, beginning in 1992. The Pentagon has a poor track record when it comes to accounting. In 2018, Politico reported hundreds of millions of dollars were unaccounted for. More recently, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office opened an investigation into potential misuse of coronavirus relief funds.

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