Bennet Secures Win in Senate to Protect Taxpayer Dollars & Improve Management at Department of Homeland Security

Recent IG Audit Found Serious Weaknesses In How DHS Accounts for Taxpayer Funds - Could Lead to Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Senate Passes Bennet Amendment Requiring Key Office at DHS to Address the Recommendations in Audit or Lose 94% of Its Increased Funding

Measure Now Headed to President for His Signature

Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today announced final Senate passage of his amendment requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop an aggressive plan to implement the recommendations of a recent audit that found serious weaknesses in how DHS accounts for taxpayer funds or lose nearly all of its increased funding from the Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

The final conference report passed the Senate today and the measure will now move to the President's desk for his signature.

"For years, DHS has been plagued by management, accounting and oversight problems that do nothing to protect taxpayer dollars. The government can't continue wasting taxpayer dollars at the expense of the hardworking people of Colorado," Bennet said. "This legislation will make sure that DHS is held accountable for how it manages taxpayer dollars."

A May 2009 Inspector General audit found serious weaknesses in the way that the Department of Homeland Security accounts for taxpayer funds.

The audit concluded, among other findings, that:

  • "For the fifth year, the DHS' independent auditors were unable to render an opinion on the Department's balance sheets." It also noted that "DHS continues to be unable to represent that certain financial balances were correct, and was unable to provide sufficient evidence to support its financial statements . . . "
  • At the Coast Guard, the audit identified "pervasive weaknesses" in its financial controls.
  • At FEMA, the audit "resulted in four findings indicating weaknesses affecting line items on [the agency's statement of budgetary resources]." According to the audit, these weaknesses at FEMA and others, "may have the potential to interfere with DHS management's ability to provide a representation that budgetary accounts . . . are fairly stated in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles . . ."
  • At the TSA certain financial information "might be misstated due to internal control deficiencies related to improper contract management and inconsistent application of established procedures."

In response, the Bennet amendment requires DHS to submit an aggressive plan describing how it intends to address these failures. If DHS doesn't submit its plan by January 4, 2010, the Chief Financial Officer-the office tasked with financial oversight-will lose $5 million out of the $5.295 million of the office's funding increase for the next year.

The amendment was included in the Department of Homeland Security Conference Report, which passed the House on October 15, 2009 and passed the Senate today by a vote of 79-19.