The Government Accountability Office has issued its 2007 report on the U.S. Government. In short, it appears that the government isn’t doing real well at keeping track of its assets nor of the money it spends.
Just imagine if the U.S. Government was a public company subject to Sarbanes-Oxley rules. Yikes!
In part the report states:
A significant number of material weaknesses (fn5) related to financial systems, fundamental recordkeeping and financial reporting, and incomplete documentation continued to (1) hamper the federal government’s ability to reliably report a significant portion of its assets, liabilities, costs, and other related information; (2) affect the federal government’s ability to reliably measure the full cost as well as the financial and nonfinancial performance of certain programs and activities; (3) impair the federal government’s ability to adequately safeguard significant assets and properly record various transactions; and (4) hinder the federal government from having reliable financial information to operate in an economical, efficient, and effective manner. We found the following:
- Certain material weaknesses in financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of our work (fn6) resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from expressing an opinion on the accompanying accrual basis consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2007 and 2006. (fn7)
- The 2007 Statement of Social Insurance (fn8) is presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with GAAP; we disclaim an opinion on the 2006 Statement of Social Insurance.(fn9)
- The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting (including safeguarding assets) and compliance with significant laws and regulations as of September 30, 2007.
(fn5) A material weakness is a significant deficiency, or combination of significant deficiencies, that results in more than a remote likelihood that a material misstatement of the financial statements will not be prevented or detected. A significant deficiency is a control deficiency, or combination of control deficiencies, that adversely affects the entity’s ability to initiate, authorize, record, process, or report financial data reliably in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles such that there is more than a remote likelihood that a misstatement of the entity’s financial statements that is more than inconsequential will not be prevented or detected. A control deficiency exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent or detect misstatements on a timely basis.
(fn6) Three major impediments continue to prevent us from rendering an opinion on the accrual basis consolidated financial statements: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.
(fn7) We previously reported that certain material weaknesses prevented us from expressing an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government for fiscal years 1997 through 2006.
(fn8) The valuation date is January 1 for all social insurance programs except the Black Lung program, for which the valuation date is September 30.
(fn9) We disclaimed an opinion on the fiscal year 2006 consolidated financial statements, including the Statement of Social Insurance.