The United States government financial records have been criticized since the 1970s, as congressional policy-makers have sought to increase the financial accountability and audit readiness on its internal control systems. Hundreds of federal agencies have made significant accomplishments to achieve audit-readiness and implement solid architecture over the last forty years, however a few, namely the Department of Defense (DoD), have been targeted with extreme scrutiny. The DoD financial reporting continues to indicate internal management problems, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has had concerns over the years with the agency's financial documentation and struggled to receive an audited status of unqualified. An examination of the DoD's path to achieve a favorable and audit opinion will be conducted with a historical background, identifying major users of the department's financial statements, listing the agency's financial goals, determining the accountability challenges, and specifying the major problems and consequences for auditable financial statements.
One of the nation's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, stated in 1802, "We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's book, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them. " [Tay11]. Jefferson's statement continues to resonate with congressional policy-makers well after the Chief Financial Officer's (CFO) Act of 1990 and into the 21st century. The CFO Act of 1990 was designed to lay the foundation for efficient and comprehensive reform for federal financial management policies, financial statements, and accountability reporting. [GAO12]. In 2011, the U.S. CFO Council and Inspector General (IG) released a report that indicated progress toward financial accountability, however transparency issues of weak internal controls and risk management systems continue to remain for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the GAO.