CFO Act Financial Audits:

Programmatic and Budgetary Implications of Navy Financial Data Deficiencies

AIMD-98-56: Published: Mar 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the programmatic and budgetary implications of the financial data deficiencies enumerated by auditors' examination of the Department of the Navy's fiscal year 1996 financial statements.

GAO noted that: (1) the extent and nature of the Navy's financial deficiencies identified by auditors, including those that relate to supporting management systems, increase the risk of waste, fraud, and misappropriation of Navy funds and can drain resources needed for defense mission priorities; (2) critical weaknesses identified include the following: (a) information on $7.8 billion in inventories on-board ships was not included in Navy's year-end financial statements; (b) failure to follow prescribed procedures for controlling Navy's cash account with Treasury contributes to continuing disbursement accounting problems; (c) until duplicate and erroneous vendor payments were identified and collected as a result of financial audit, the Navy not only paid too much for goods and services but, more importantly, was unable to use these funds to meet other critical programmatic needs; and (d) breakdowns in the controls relied on to prevent or detect material financial errors mean that the Navy cannot tell if its business-type support operations are operating on a break-even basis as intended; (3) although the Navy's 1996 financial statements--its first effort to prepare comprehensive financial statements--did not include all required information and were not verifiable, they still provided data GAO could use to identify several financial issues that may be of interest to budget and program managers; (4) for example, footnote disclosures on the Navy's accounts receivable and unexpended appropriations raise questions about whether future budget resources may be needed or whether there may be opportunities to reduce resource requirements; (5) when the findings presented in the auditors' reports are corrected, the financial statements themselves and related notes can become an excellent source of information on the financial condition and operations of the Navy; and (6) also, if properly implemented, new accounting standards that require information such as data on asset disposal costs and deferred maintenance will provide the Navy and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service with an opportunity to improve the extent and usefulness of information that is currently available to support program decision-making and accountability in these areas.

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