A task force is needed to address ongoing problems and hasten reform efforts at the Defense Department, according to Comptroller General David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office. Walker testified before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations Wednesday morning, stressing the need for top Defense leaders to give sustained attention to the agency's biggest management challenges. According to Walker, change and accountability can be achieved through a task force that will focus on Defense problems. Areas of concern within Defense include human capital, financial management, infrastructure management, weapon systems acquisition, systems modernization, inventory management and contract management, Walker said. These areas were dubbed "high-risk" and included on GAO's 2001 Performance and Accountability and High-Risk Update, which lists the federal programs most prone to waste, fraud and abuse. According to Walker, the Pentagon needs to develop strategic plans with specific outcomes, recruit and retain skilled military personnel, reduce contract risk and establish accountability in financial management operations. "These problems have real consequences," Walker told legislators. "Every dollar that is wasted is a dollar that is not there for legitimate needs of the agency."
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