We determined the accuracy of the Air Force’s obligations and disbursements supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) as reported in the Cost of War (CoW) report. We also examined the CoW report to determine if it satisfied legal requirements to report financial information for contingency operations.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Financial Management and Comptroller (SAF/FMB) inaccurately represented Air Force OIR costs in the third quarter FY 2015 CoW reports by underreporting $237.9 million in obligations and $209.9 million in disbursements. This occurred because SAF/FMB and Defense Finance and Accounting Service Enterprise Solutions and Standards (DFAS ESS) did not have adequate controls over the processing
and reporting of Air Force OIR costs. Specifically, SAF/FMB and DFAS ESS did not:
- have processes in place to capture complete and accurate source data;
- update the business rules for the Contingency Operations Reporting and Analysis Service (CORAS) reporting systems to account for all OIR costs; and
- submit costs that matched the source data.
In addition, Deputy Comptroller (Program/Budget), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)(Deputy Comptroller) personnel did not issue the FY 2015 CoW reports within the deadline required by public law. This occurred because Deputy Comptroller personnel prioritized other tasks ahead of the CoW report and used manual processes to prepare the CoW report.
As a result, the Deputy Comptroller issued unreliable and outdated CoW reports, diminishing
the relevance of the information provided to the Government Accountability Office and Congress. The reliability of Air Force OIR costs reported in the CoW report is at risk until SAF/FMB personnel develop and implement procedures to ensure complete and accurate source information, and DFAS ESS personnel update CORAS business rules. In addition, until the Deputy Comptroller allocates sufficient resources to issuing the CoW report, Deputy Comptroller may fail to issue a timely account of contingency operation costs.
Air Force officials should develop and implement standard operating procedures, which include operation-specific guidance, to ensure personnel enter necessary costs into CORAS and the Air Force officials should adjust CORAS to reflect accurate FY 2015 costs. In addition, DFAS ESS and Air Force officials should update CORAS business rules to ensure OIR costs are accurately reported. Either the Deputy Comptroller officials should coordinate with Congress to adjust the CoW reporting requirements, or the Deputy Comptroller officials should assign the resources necessary to issue the CoW report on time, automate preparing the CoW report, and revise overseas contingency operation reporting instructions for FY 2016 to meet public law reporting requirements.
Management Comments and Our Response
Comments from SAF/FMB and DFAS ESS addressed all specifics of the recommendations, and no additional comments are required. However, comments from the Director for Operations (Program/Budget), responding for the Deputy Comptroller, partially addressed the recommendation. Therefore, we request the Deputy Comptroller provide additional comments to this report.
This report is a result of Project No. D2016-D000JB-0029.000.