HILL AIR FORCE BASE — A recently completed audit on the U.S. military discovered a large cache of pricey intercontinental ballistic missile parts stored at Hill Air Force Base were inaccurately invoiced as not working.
The recently released audit, which is the first agency-wide financial audit in the history of the Department of Defense, found that about $53 million worth of stockpiled missile motors were catalogued as inoperative.
“(A) redesigned process for validating the condition of assets in property systems resulted in the accurate capture of approximately $53 million in assets that would have otherwise been misstated,” the audit reads.
In an email sent to the Standard-Examiner Friday, Leah Bryant, chief of public affairs with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, said the oversight could be attributed to training failures.
The AFNWC serves as headquarters for the Hill unit involved in the matter and therefore was the agency that fielded media inquiries related to it.
“The differences between the Integrated Missile Database and the tags on the equipment were due to training issues with how to assign the database codes,” Bryant said in the email. “At some Air Force wings, a few items were inadvertently designated as ‘unserviceable but repairable’ when the code should have been ‘serviceable’ instead.”
As a result of the DoD audit’s finding, Bryant said, the AFNWC issued new guidance to the wings and added a new database code for serviceable items needing repairs. She said that subsequently, AFNWC has verified the new guidance, training and code are in place and that correct reporting is now taking place.
As home to the AFNWC’s ICBM Systems Directorate, crews at Hill are responsible for “inception-to-retirement,” integrated weapons system management of the military’s Minuteman weapon systems. In 2014, the DoD removed 50 missiles from its nuclear arsenal to comply with an arms treaty with Russia, storing them in secure locations at Hill.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the DoD’s financial management has been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High-Risk” list since 2015. Agencies and programs on the list are considered “vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or at most in need of transformation.”
A DoD press release that announced the historic audit a year ago, called the undertaking “massive” and one that would “examine every aspect of the department from personnel to real property to weapons to supplies to bases.”
About 1,200 individual auditors were involved in the process, the Pentagon said.
According to the audit report, the DoD has approximately $2.8 trillion in total assets — more than 70 percent of the U.S. Government’s total.