Senate clears bill requiring Homeland Security to achieve clean books

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Charles Dharapak/AP

The Senate on Wednesday night unanimously passed a bill to require the Homeland Security Department to pass a full financial audit, a step toward which DHS recently claimed progress.

The bipartisan Department of Homeland Security Audit Requirement Target Act, championed by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; would require the 10-year-old department -- the government’s third largest -- to pass a full audit by 2013. Like the Defense Department, DHS has struggled to get its auditing functions off the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk list. Earlier in November, DHS officials announced that they are audit-ready in all categories but one, and the department has never passed a full financial audit.

"Clean, auditable financial statements can provide the roadmap we need to identify potential savings, avoid waste and fraud and move toward a culture of thrift,” said Carper in a release. “This bill requires some very important, but straightforward steps that will ensure the Department of Homeland Security can pass a financial audit.”

Johnson noted the department’s $60 billion budget includes $6 billion for overhead alone. “DHS is in desperate need of a clean audit,” he said. “Once this work is complete, Congress should get down to the more serious work of eliminating inefficient, wasteful and duplicative spending at the department.”

A similar House bill Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., introduced in June, hasn’t cleared committee.

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