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The Defense Department accounted for 39% of its assets in its fifth-ever audit, released in November 2022, the department’s comptroller said.

That left 61% of assets unaccounted for.

The department has $3.5 trillion in assets, according to the audit, which was for fiscal year 2022.

The comptroller, Undersecretary of Defense Michael McCord, said progress is being made toward receiving a “clean” audit, which is when auditors find financial statements are presented fairly and consistent with accounting principles.

In January, the independent Government Accountability Office reported that the Defense Department estimated that it cannot account for $220 billion in department property that is in the possession of its contractors. The amount is “likely significantly understated,” GAO said.

Contractors can possess assets such as ammunition, missiles and torpedoes, the report said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who represents the Madison area, raised the November audit in an Aug. 14 interview.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


U.S. Department of Defense: DOD Makes Audit Progress, But Much More Needs to Happen, Official Says

Department of Defense: Defense Department Agency Financial Reporter Fiscal Year 2022

The Hill: Defense Department fails another audit, but makes progress

U.S. Government Accountability Office: DOD Financial Management: Greater Attention and Accountability Needed over Government-Furnished Property

U.S. Government Accountability Office: DOD Financial Management

U.S. Government Accountability Office: DOD Financial Management: Additional Actions Needed to Achieve a Clean Audit Opinion on DOD’s Financial Statements

WisconsinEye: Newsmakers: U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan Check-In (8:00)

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.