Government again fails to get its financial books in order

J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

The government has once again failed its overall audit, the Government Accountability Office reported Thursday.

The poor performance comes at a time when strong financial management is especially important, the watchdog agency noted. “Reliable financial and performance information is even more critical as (1) federal managers likely face increasingly tight budget constraints and need to operate their respective entities as efficiently and effectively as possible, and (2) decision makers carry out the important task of deciding how to use multiple tools ... to address the federal government’s fiscal challenges,” Comptroller General Gene Dodaro wrote in an introduction to the report.

As in past years, the Defense Department’s financial management flaws were one obstacle to GAO issuing an opinion on the government’s consolidated financial statement for fiscal 2012. The Pentagon is aiming to achieve auditability by fiscal 2014, and has a congressional mandate to do so by fiscal 2017.

The other major roadblocks to a clean governmentwide audit were ineffective procedures for preparing the financial statements and issues with tracking intragovernmental activity, GAO said. The report also noted some material weaknesses, including agencies’ failure to get a grasp on the extent of improper payments to program beneficiaries and other recipients of taxpayer money.

Despite these concerns, the watchdog said financial management has improved in the 16 years since the government started preparing consolidated statements. And it stressed that almost all of the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies – with the exception of Defense and the Homeland Security departments – earned unqualified opinions on their statements. Homeland Security did achieve a qualified opinion for the first time, but problems with internal controls and property management prevented a clean audit.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.