Former DoD Comptroller Cites Transformational Accomplishments
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2004 Before his resignation took effect last week, the Defense Department's former comptroller cited transformation as the main focus during his three-year tour.
Dov S. Zakheim, who left government service April 15, cited some of the changes that occurred on his watch during a recent interview with the American Forces Radio and Television Service.
For example, he pointed out, $200 billion in military retirement and Medicare funds have been re-invested to realize bigger returns for beneficiaries. Zakheim said changes were made after he reviewed a DoD inspector general report that criticized how the funds were managed. He noted that a new oversight board was created to review how those investments were made.
"We have to maximize the rate of return," Zakheim explained. "There was a sense that there wasn't sufficient high-level oversight" into the military retirement and health care investment portfolios.
After changes were implemented, the military retirement fund earned more than 5 percent over the past year, a very favorable rate compared to private-sector investment plans, Zakheim noted. The Medicare fund isn't doing as well, but noted, "I think people will be seeing that changing very quickly," he added.
Zakheim said that when he became DoD comptroller on May 4, 2001, he felt it was "terribly important that we really emphasized financial management." Consequently, he said, the necessary resources were installed to improve how DoD tracks and validates its expenditures.
He estimated that a complete, "clean" audit of DoD's vast financial system should be available in fiscal 2007. This, he emphasized, "is not an easy task," but it's being accomplished not only within DoD, but also across government.
"We have improved financial statements, and we've created a much more credible approach to financial management," Zakheim pointed out, crediting former businessman Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for his valued support.
The secretary's transformational vision, Zakheim said, "has literally overhauled" the Defense Department.
"Whether it's planning, whether it's operations, whether it's the type of systems that we buy, whether it's financial management this secretary is constantly pushing for change," Zakheim observed.