Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is accelerating by three years the timetable for the Pentagon achieving audit readiness. The Defense Department is under the statutory deadline to be audit-ready by the end of Fiscal 2017. However, “I’ve directed the department to cut in half the time it will take to achieve audit readiness . . . so that, by 2014, we will have the ability to conduct a full budget audit,” Panetta told the House Armed Services Committee Thursday. He called it “inexcusable” that DOD “has never had a clean audit opinion” on its financial statements. “We owe it to the taxpayers to be transparent and accountable for how we spend their dollars,” he said. Accordingly, he’s directing the DOD comptroller to implement a revised plan that “prioritizes the information we use in managing the department and will give our financial managers the key tools they need to track spending, identify waste, and improve the way the Pentagon does business as soon as possible.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.