WASHINGTON (AFNS) —
The Department of the Air Force (DAF) is flying high after the completion of its fourth year under full financial audit. While the Independent Public Accountant (IPA) issued a “Disclaimer of Opinion” again for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), significant progress was made to move closer toward a clean audit opinion.
Every year since 2018 the IPA has reviewed the DAF’s financial statements and systems to provide detailed findings, some of which aggregate into major issues or material weaknesses (MWs) that impede a clean audit opinion. FY21 marked a major audit achievement, the DAF led Department of Defense (DOD) reporting entities by downgrading two MWs and closing a third a full year ahead of schedule.
“While we understand and fully appreciate that there is still a long way to go, the progress we made this past year should be celebrated,” said Stephen Herrera, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. “This year’s audit outcomes are a testament to the amazing work being done by our Airmen and Guardians, and their dedication toward improving financial management practices.”
Fueling those MW downgrades/closures was the work done by the DAF to address a significant number of high impact findings issued by the auditor. In FY21, the DAF closed 32% of its open audit findings, an increase from the previous year in which the DAF led DOD in closure rate.
“Now entering our fifth year under audit, DAF leadership is growing more eager to demonstrate to both Congress and the American taxpayer the full impact having a clean set of books can have on our mission,” Herrera said. “So much so that, in FY21, we refined our approach that not only paved the way for a highly successful year, but set us up to sustain this momentum moving forward.”
At the beginning of the year, the DAF enhanced its audit approach by developing real-time tracking capabilities, supported by integrated master schedules, to facilitate risk-based discussions from top to bottom. These efforts will be critical for the DAF to attain its stated goals of achieving a clean audit opinion on its General Fund and Working Capital Fund by FY26 and FY28, respectively.
“Change, as a result of the audit, its findings, and the corrective actions developed to reduce deficiencies, continues to provide the DAF with immense benefits,” Herrera said. “Ultimately, through the audit, the DAF is becoming better stewards of taxpayer dollars, better spenders by improving asset management, better protected by identifying and reducing cyber vulnerabilities, and better informed through more accurate, complete, and timely data.”