Subcommittee Chairman Lynch and Reps. Luria, Jacobs, and Peters Seek Justification for Proposed Cuts to Naval Audit Service
Washington, D.C. (May 27, 2021)— Today, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security, and Reps. Elaine G. Luria, Sara Jacobs, and Scott Peters, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker requesting information about the Department of the Navy’s plans to reduce funding and eliminate staff for the Naval Audit Service (NAS).
Public reports indicate that the Navy intends to reduce the NAS budget by approximately 70% and downsize its personnel strength from about 290 people to 85. On February 24, 2021, Rep. Luria asked Acting Secretary Harker for information on the proposed cuts to NAS. Despite Rep. Luria’s request, the Navy has not provided sufficient justification for the proposed cuts.
“These cuts, which were first proposed during the Trump Administration, are expected to degrade independent oversight of Navy expenditures and operations as fewer personnel and resources would be available to conduct the same amount of work,” wrote the Members. “Instead, the department needs all hands on deck to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.”
On September 19, 2020, Auditor General of the Navy Debra D. Pettitt wrote to former Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite and warned that the proposed staff reductions would “destroy the Naval Audit Service’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
In its annual report for fiscal year 2020, NAS similarly cautioned that if the Navy were to implement the proposed cuts, NAS “will not be able to accomplish its mission to provide Department of the Navy senior leadership with independent and objective audit and investigative support services targeted to improve program and operational efficiency and effectiveness while mitigating risk.”
“We are also concerned that the Navy has pursued these cuts without consulting with Congress and while simultaneously directing NAS to discontinue its audit and oversight work,” wrote the Members. “You have reportedly ordered NAS to reduce its staff by more than half by October and informed the Auditor General to ‘not begin any new audits this year.’”
The Navy appears to be moving forward with its proposed cuts to NAS, even though it would greatly benefit from the robust oversight and audit services provided by NAS.
As of March 2020, the Navy had the most open Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommendations of any DOD component. The DOD OIG also reported that the Navy’s number of open recommendations increased 42% from 2019.
The Government Accountability Office has also reported that the Navy has repeatedly delivered ships “that require more effort to sustain than initially planned” and that the Navy had underestimated sustainment costs for six shipbuilding programs by at least $130 billion.
“As President Biden consults with Congress on a federal budget that ‘proposes executable and responsible investments in the U.S. Navy fleet,’ reductions in the department’s oversight capabilities would undercut this objective,” the Members added.
The Members asked Acting Secretary Harker to share all requested information by June 17, 2021.
Click here to read today’s letter.