17 January 2009

Comptroller Nominee Pledges to Make Budget Reviews First Priority

President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be the Defense Department's chief financial officer said his first priority, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will be to review the department's fiscal 2009 supplemental budget request and the fiscal 2010 budget request.

Robert Hale, who served as the Air Force comptroller in the Clinton administration, said his top priority will be to help the department obtain the necessary resources to meet the country's national security objectives. Hale was among four nominees to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.

"At a time when we have tens of thousands of Americans serving overseas and in harm's way, we all need to work together to be sure they have the resources that they need," Hale said.

Part of finding those resources will be ensuring the department does not waste taxpayer money. His job has the authority and responsibility for overseeing defense financial management and financial operations.

"We need to make continued improvements in how we pay our people and how we pay our vendors," he said. "We need to improve financial systems and improve the way we account for funds in the department."

Hale said this is crucial to continued progress toward auditable financial statements.

"The department also needs better financial information in order to spend the dollars that are appropriated to it efficiently and effectively," he said. "I think wise spending of defense dollars is always important, but it's especially important right now as the nation weathers this really serious economic crisis."

Hale, who served in the Navy on active duty and in reserves, said personnel is another priority.

"The department must have a capable and well-trained work force in order to accomplish defense financial management," he said. "We can have the best systems in the world. We can have the best accounting practices. If we don't have the people out there that are well-trained and in adequate numbers, it's not going to work."

If confirmed, he said, he plans to support the military departments and the agencies as they recruit, train and retain the right defense financial management work force.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
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