Hale: DOD Strives to Improve Financial Management
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 16, 2011 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has taken the lead in promoting efforts to make the Defense Department’s financial management processes more efficient, effective and transparent, DOD Comptroller Robert F. Hale told Congress yesterday.
Testifying before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subcommittee, Hale said Panetta quickly embraced initiatives already under way when he arrived and pressed for more.
Hale told the panel that Panetta directed the department to continue to tackle wasteful, duplicative spending and overhead staffing.
Hale said Panetta also told defense leaders that DOD must be accountable to the American people for what it spends, where it’s spent and with what result.
In that same message, the secretary expressed his commitment to achieving auditable financial statements, Hale said.
Toward that end, Panetta directed Hale’s office to review DOD’s financial strategy and report back to him on both progress and plans.
“That review is ongoing,” Hale reported yesterday in his written statement. “The secretary’s personal interest in these issues will be very helpful in the days ahead.”
Although much has changed at DOD over the past year, Hale said its basic guidance has remained constant.
“Our basic priorities -- including a focus on budgetary information and existence and completeness for material -- are still valid,” he said.
Hale outlined DOD’s goals for financial management: to strive to acquire the resources to meet national security objectives and to ensure appropriated resources are used legally, effectively and efficiently.
But to meet these goals, he said the department is committed to a third objective: to maintain “a world-class financial management workforce” trained and motivated to support the mission.
Joined at the hearing by Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath and the service comptrollers, Hale reported steps being taken across the department and services to achieve these goals.
Many are incremental, he acknowledged, but are headed in a positive direction.
“We continue to make important progress, but also face significant challenges in transforming all elements of the DOD business environment in order to produce high-quality, timely and reliable financial information,” Hale told the committee.