Corps Becomes First Service to Pass Audit

Corps Becomes First Service to Pass Audit

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed out a curious-looking award in a curious setting Thursday to the Marine Corps for being the first of the services – ever – to get an audit of its annual budget.

Gen. John Paxton, assistant commandant of the Corps, accepted the award – but with reluctance: He mumbled something, then bolted from the stage at flank speed.

The award itself – nobody knew if it had a name – caused some consternation among the Pentagon’s press corps for its enigma-like qualities. It appeared to be a split-screen version of a plaque, with possibly a budget document on one side and fabric in the shape of a giant red letter “Z” on the other. It could not be examined up close, since Paxton had left.

Nary a soul in the building’s vast public affairs operation could immediately say what the giant “Z” or its apparent lettering signified, but they doubted it had anything to do with the mark of “Zorro.”

After checking, a Pentagon spokesman said the red “Z” on the Marines’ award was believed to be “of no particular significance.” The spokesman also said it may have been meant, somehow, to draw attention to the document or whatever it was on the other side.

Anyway, Hagel said the award was important, but even he was puzzled about why he was handing it out in the Pentagon’s “Hall of Heroes,” where the names of the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients are listed. It was a little weird to be standing there for a “bookkeeping accomplishment,” he said, “but, damn, this is an accomplishment.”

Hagel added, “I want to particularly acknowledge the Marine Corps for what they’ve done” in validating the fitness of their budget through an audit. “Most Marines, I suspect, don’t think of audits when they think of fitness,” he said, but somebody had to do audits and the Marines were the first.

For decades, the services have been working toward getting their annual spending plans in shape for audits – but never actually had one done until the Corps did last year. The Army, Navy and Air Force say they’re eager to achieve the financial milestone, maybe by 2017.

In 1990, Congress passed a law requiring the services’ budgets to pass official financial inspection, but it was never enforced. Old hands at the Pentagon recalled similar attempts going back to the Carter administration.

When the Marines finally passed an audit late last year, Hagel was ecstatic, or maybe just surprised. “This development marks an important milestone on the path to achieving greater accountability in our financial operations and more effective management of the defense enterprise writ large,” Hagel said.

In introducing Hagel, Bob Hale, who will retire later this year as the Pentagon’s comptroller, praised the Marines for the accomplishment and said the other services are making “major progress” in balancing their books. It’s not easy, Hale said of keeping track of the comings and goings of money at the Pentagon. He likened the effort to “pushing a heavy block across sandpaper.”

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Forget the Corps audit. The one I’m really wanting to know about is the Air Force audit. That one should be interesting.

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Think the Corps should be the only one to pass the Army is so bloated with pork and pet projects take a decade to undo them and get a balanced budget with them.

Good for the Marine Corps, but process is not product. Keeping track of what you are doing has very little to do with the more important questions of what do you need to do (and why are you doing it), how to do it, and what is/was the outcome? Anyone can have a clean set of books (at least 15 years to get to this point from when all this audit readiness stuff started). But the fact you spent twice as much and lost the war anyway says a lot more.

Need to better evaluate efforts and make better decisions. If VISA and the banks can balance their books every night, why can’t DoD? Should have taken two years to fix. Called leadership.

For someone who has never worn the uniform you make it your business to throw stones at the Army. A shame you couldn’t serve in any branch and learn a little humility and respect.

Think that an audit of the Executive and Legislative Branches would be very interesting. If you think the DOD has issues, I’d bet that neither the Executive nor the Legislative Branches would pass any audit.

They would probably pass because bribery and “lobbying” is apparently a legit enterprise. K Street is full of ex-Congressmen who got rich off the fat of the land.

As for the presidency, I wouldn’t be surprised either. Waiting for Obama to give Iran TOW and Hawk missiles so we can have Iran Contra all over again.

Would the red Z be emblematic of the signal pennant Bravo Zulu for “well Done ” in Navy speak?

We were always the tail on the Navy dog?

“After checking, a Pentagon spokesman said the red ‘Z’ on the Marines’ award was believed to be ‘of no particular significance.’”

Zorro, of course.

Thought I was reading a Duffle Blog article.

the mark of Zorro… priceless!

The fact that this is the first time a service has ever completed an audit that has been “mandatory” since 1990, should show why the level of interest in the “award” was so minimal. Now, however, that the bit of window-dressing has been done by the Corps, expect in the level of butt-pain to increase as the other services now try to save-face by doing their own audits. Just another distraction to go along with the massive drawdowns.

Hmmmm.… I think DoD is part of the Executive Branch…

The AF has been working towards a Auditable Financial Report. The AF Started with “FIRST” back in early 2000. It was Developed by Accenture and was a total failure. The second phase of “FIRST” was Budget Formulation and it went so far over budget it had to declare a major change in program status due to Financial thresholds that were breached. Accenture also developed this Phase. It started out as a continuation of the failure of FIRST, but after many years and too much money it was fielded.
The AF also worked towards a birth to death financial integration system to forecast and track all funds. “DEAMS” was initially for Transport Command AMC, Sea Command and Army Transport Command. It was designed to do just Transport finances, then do Scott AFB total Finance and then was scheduled to go Command wide and services wide in passed increments. It is still in development.


Along with the multitude of battle streamers, our legendary prowess on the battlefield, and of course, the cherished Title of.….Marine.….now all Marines can proudly claim the.…..“Unknown Z”.……as our very own. First to fight, first to audit! <Sigh> It brings a tear to this Marines eye! Semper Fi

I spent time in both the Marines and the army, I’d say Lance has a pretty good perspective of how well the army does with its finances. The Marines have always done well with little, with someone else’s hand– me –downs. In Iraq I watched the army spend over a million dollars to paint a school and then spend the same amount to do it all over again a year later. The claims of waste fell on deaf ears. The army’s foo money for company size units was a joke too. How many switch blades and gerber multi tools does one Soldier need. And why would you spend the money to renovate a Bn. HQ building that was demoed a year later and the people and paper moved to a brand new building across the street. I was amazed by the waste and abuse of the peoples money that I saw while in the army. Like I said, conversation and complaints always fell on deaf ears.

Seriously, though, this isn’t satire? How is this an actual news story? Why even bother with budgets if they’re never accountable to them until now?

Forget the military audits. The only ones we should be hammering for are Congressional and government audits. Why do we need some 80 overlapping welfare programs? Hundreds of overlapping ecology programs? Three overlapping national healthcare programs?

Could it possibly have anything to do with “Zero Based Budgeting”.

Not surprised by the achievemnet by my beloved Marine Corps. Anybody who served in the Marine Corps can tell you we have nothing to work with , our gear is all worn and broken.
The Marine Corps budget comprised 6% of the cut we get from the navy. so there is nothing to balance. Let me do the math for you nothing minus nothing equals ? Nothing! The Z in the frame reflects what our Marine brothers and sisters are going to receive in the next fiscal year Z=Zilch! But in true Marine Corps fashion, our brothers will go out there and give another Marine Corps issue ass kicking to whom ever needs it. OORAH and of course SEMPER FI

Rock 2/4 and Beirut Marine

I served the Corps for 22 years active and civil service another 27 plus years. From the very little outdated equipment in Vietnam to ensuring the Marines of today get the best I had to offer for Afghanistan. The Corps has always been the “red headed” stepchild when it came to getting a real piece of the pie. They always did the best they could with the few crumbs tossed their way. Our “Wonderful Congressional” Representatives are to blame for any shortfalls. As for losing any wars, well it is a known fact that Congress and Politicians make very poor Generals. God bless America!

No, if they meant it to be “BZ” they would generally use the Navy signal flags for B and Z.

They are accountable. And units — both operating and support structure — go through audits and inspections all the time; especially the acquisition units. The difference is the service as a whole had never been audited all at once. But segments of it are audited all the time.


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