McCaskill Calls for Answers on Defense Department’s Efforts to Reduce Wasteful Spending on Contracts

Senator requests update on backlog for contracting audits, which can identify improper payments and protect taxpayers

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling for answers from the Department of Defense on its efforts to reduce the agency’s audit backlog. Last year, there were 14,000 incomplete audits.

The audits can identify contractors that have not fulfilled their financial responsibilities, or billed the government for any unauthorized services or products, so that the government can recover improperly spent funds and can take action against fraud, waste, and abuse.

“As a former Missouri State Auditor, I know just how essential audits can be in identifying wasteful spending,” McCaskill said. “With hundreds of billions of dollars spent every year on government contracts, it’s critically important that the Defense Department does its due diligence to make sure taxpayer dollars weren’t misused.”

A McCaskill-requested Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recently found that while the Defense Department had made some progress in reducing its backlog of 14,000 audits, it was not on pace to meet its goal of eliminating the backlog by October 2018. “Such contract closeout backlogs expose the federal government to an increased risk of improper payments,” McCaskill wrote in a letter to the Defense Department. McCaskill asked the agency for details on the current backlog and the agency’s plans and timeline for reducing the backlog.

McCaskill’s inquiry today is part of her continued efforts to reduce the Defense Department’s audit backlog. Last year’s annual defense authorization bill included a McCaskill-backed provision prohibiting the Defense Department’s audit agency from conducting audits for other federal agencies before it reduces its own backlog.  

Since her time as Missouri State Auditor, McCaskill has been a leading voice in Missouri and Washington for cutting wasteful government spending. Earlier this year, a McCaskill-backed bill cracking down on abuse of government-issued purchase cards passed the Senate. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has unanimously approved two of her bills with Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana to eliminate wasteful spending at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. McCaskill has also expanded whistleblower protections to federal contractors, grantees, subgrantees, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting.

Read McCaskill’s letter to the Defense Department HERE.

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