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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Remarks at the DoD OIG Annual Awards Ceremony

Good morning, everyone. Let me just first take a moment to thank the National Anthem singer, who just did an absolute lovely job today.


And then of course let me thank most of all Honorable Storch for the kind introduction, and all of you for joining us here in person, and then virtually thank you all for being here today for this annual award ceremony.

In fact, let me begin by thanking everyone in the IG for everything that you do for the Department. I know that each of you works tirelessly to provide high-quality, clear, and timely oversight that addresses the top challenges and the risk areas for the Department. Your work provides the Secretary and me, other senior DoD leaders, Congress, and the public with a better understanding of how DoD is doing and how we can do better. 

As you all know, defending the nation is Secretary Austin's top priority, and what you do fits squarely within that priority. Your audits, your evaluations, your investigations —they hold the Department accountable to American taxpayers. And by holding ourselves accountable, we build trust and rapport with the public that allows us to achieve DoD's mission— keeping the nation safe.

Here are just a few, recent ways you and your colleagues have made an impact, and you have kept up a rapid pace to address emerging issues:    

First, with the evacuation of Afghans after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Your oversight included dozens of reports and advisories on the services and support the Department provided to Afghans housed on DoD installations.

You also wasted no time in overseeing our assistance to Ukraine. You established and are leading a joint working group, consisting of departments and agencies across the federal government to ensure comprehensive oversight of U.S. assistance provided to Ukraine. Your timely products provide DoD leaders, including me, with valuable insights into what the DoD is accomplishing on this front, and where we might improve.

In the first six months of the fiscal year, here are just a few other stats:

  • You produced impactful reports and advisories that contained more than 100 recommendations to improve the Department;
  • You achieved more than $317 million in monetary benefits from your audits and evaluations;
  • You closed 172 criminal investigations, and substantiated allegations of misconduct against two senior officials and allegations of whistleblower reprisal against a contractor.

Those are no small achievements, and the Department and the American people are grateful for your work. But that's not all.

I would be remiss if I did not mention your continued quarterly reporting on overseas contingency operations and your Financial Statement audit work.   

Through your financial statement and related performance audits, you help the Department identify ways to improve financial management and budgeting as we work tirelessly to achieve a clean audit.

Your report on Understanding the Results of the Financial Statement Audit is a valuable resource that explains in layman's terms DoD's financial picture, progress, and challenges. I read it cover to cover.


Even this small list of accomplishments makes it clear that the auditors, evaluators, investigators, analysts, attorneys, and support staff throughout your offices are deserving of the awards that you are receiving today. Your thoughtful, impactful oversight ensures that the public sees that DoD is upholding its duty to the warfighter and to the taxpayer, both of whom are vital to our national defense.

I also want to express my appreciation for your outreach to my office and the Department overall on a number of important issues — from policy matters, to lessons learned from your past work. It's an ethos that truly embraces another of Secretary Austin's priorities —"succeeding through teamwork"— and those efforts go a long way to improving the Department as a whole — now and in the future.

Some of our most important teammates are those who bravely step forward to report suspected issues. As IG Storch always says, those willing to come forward perform an invaluable service to the Department and the public, and they should never suffer reprisal for doing so.

The DoD Hotline in particular provides a convenient and secure way for whistleblowers to come forward with what they reasonably believe to be evidence of wrongdoing. So thank you for that.

Let me close by emphasizing this: your work is deeply important to upholding the standards of this Department. You perform an invaluable service to the nation, and I appreciate the depth and breadth of your oversight. As I communicated to the Department last year in a memo, I am committed to DoD's continued cooperation with your office in responding to your oversight requests and addressing your recommendations. 

So, congratulations to all of those receiving your achievement awards today, but please know that everyone in this organization- each and every one of you- are making contributions to make the Department a better workplace and organization, and we are grateful.

Thank you.