Christopher Hanks

Peter (and Bill),

Yes, it is most definitely time to repeal the Clinger-Cohen Act.

The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 passed because of lobbying by the GAO, which first began calling for the use of “integrated architectures” in 1992.

Why did GAO do that?

Because it was the only way the government was ever going to be able to produce consolidated financial statements for itself that could win unqualified opinions from auditors, as if the government were a big, profit-seeking business like, say, General Electric Corporation. Such statements are required by the CFO Act of 1990, another result of GAO lobbying. (Auditors of the consolidated financial statements for big, multi-division businesses, like GE, have to be able to construct audit trails, which requires “integrated” financial systems. The problem, of course, is that the DOD is not – and never has been – a “business.”)

For a scholarly review of the above history – the bottom line of which is that GAO management ideas have done enormous (and enormously expensive) damage to government operations over the last 20 years – see my paper “Financial Accountability at the DOD: Reviewing the Bidding,” published in the July 2009 issue of the Defense Acquisition Review Journal and available in its entirety at:

Don’t give up – you’re on to something really important here!