Pentagon IG overlooking fraud, Grassley says
Updated 8:33 p.m.
The Pentagon's official watchdog has gotten lazy and isn't paying attention to signs of fraud and abuse in defense contracting, according to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).
Grassley's staff launched their own audit of the Pentagon's auditors - the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General -- after receiving anonymous notes alleging misconduct and low productivity at the agency.
In a 73-page report released Wednesday, Grassley found that the Inspector General last year essentially abandoned its mission of auditing defense contracts, largely because the Pentagon's accounting system is so "broken" that no audit trail is possible. Last year, he said, the 765 auditors in the inspector general's office were unable to document "any measurable fraud" in defense contracts - something that Grassley found hard to believe.
"Oversight is gravely impaired, leaving huge sums of the taxpayers' money vulnerable to fraud and outright theft," Grassley wrote in his report. "The OIG Audit junkyard dog has been de-fanged and rendered harmless."
Instead of pursuing contract fraud, the Pentagon's watchdog has been conducting defense policy reviews, "which yields zero benefits to the taxpayer," Grassley wrote. "They deserve the title: 'DOD Policy Police.' "
In a statement Wednesday evening, Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell did not dispute Grassley's findings and said his office would embrace some of the senator's recommendations.
"I'm in the process of transforming the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General," Heddell said. "The observations and recommendations made by Senator Grassley are relevant -- and important -- but they are only one piece of a much bigger transformation that I embarked upon well over a year ago when I was confirmed by the Senate."
| September 8, 2010; 5:18 PM ET
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