Opportunities to Improve Controls over Department of Defense's Overseas Contingency Operations Cost Reporting

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "From September 2001 through January 2010, Congress provided about $1.023 trillion in supplemental and annual appropriations in response to Department of Defense (DOD) requests for funding to support overseas contingency operations (OCO). In March 2010, DOD reported obligations of about $825 billion attributed to OCO for the period September 2001 through January 2010. DOD uses available cost-related information, along with other financial information, to evaluate OCO trends, formulate OCO funding requests, and monitor the costs of overseas operations. In addition, Congress considers this information in its deliberations on ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. May 27, 2010.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "From September 2001 through January 2010, Congress provided about $1.023 trillion in supplemental and annual appropriations in response to Department of Defense (DOD) requests for funding to support overseas contingency operations (OCO). In March 2010, DOD reported obligations of about $825 billion attributed to OCO for the period September 2001 through January 2010. DOD uses available cost-related information, along with other financial information, to evaluate OCO trends, formulate OCO funding requests, and monitor the costs of overseas operations. In addition, Congress considers this information in its deliberations on DOD requests for additional OCO funding. Our prior reviews have found the financial information in DOD's monthly OCO reports to be of questionable reliability. For example, we identified problems in DOD's processes for recording and reporting obligations, such as not including all OCO costs and the lack of a systematic process for ensuring that data are correctly entered into those systems. Consequently, we concluded DOD's reported OCO costs should be considered approximations. Based on our prior work, we made a number of recommendations to improve the reliability of OCO reported costs, with which DOD generally concurred. Consistent with our recommendations, DOD has taken steps intended to improve OCO cost reliability, such as clarifying cost category definitions and requiring military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) and other DOD components to analyze variances in reported OCO costs. Further, in fiscal year 2009, DOD initiated the Contingency Operations Reporting and Analysis Service (CORAS), an automated system and database through which DOD intended to provide more transparent, accurate, and timely reporting on costs attributed to OCO. Prior to the CORAS initiative, DOD had relied on manual procedures for accumulating data and reporting on costs attributed to OCO from the military services. With CORAS, the intent was to (1) eliminate such manual practices where feasible and instead use automated processes to retrieve and accumulate key financial OCO data from the military services' financial systems using a DOD-wide database and (2) add the capability to report on OCO-related funding (appropriations) and disbursements, as well as obligations. To determine whether DOD had designed adequate internal controls over reporting of OCO cost-related data, we reviewed internal control criteria related to reliably reporting financial data. We reviewed DOD and military service standard operating procedures and practices in comparison with federal and department standards and guidance to determine whether they contained key controls."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • May 27, 2010

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Opportunities to Improve Controls over Department of Defense's Overseas Contingency Operations Cost Reporting, text, May 27, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc300021/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.