Archive for the ‘Auditing’ Category

US Army committed $6.5 trillion in accounting fraud in one year (w/correction)

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

US Army committed $6.5 trillion in accounting fraud in one year by Cory Doctorow.

From the post:

In June, the Defense Department’s Inspector General released a report on the US Army’s accounting, revealing that the Army had invented $6.5 trillion in “improper adjustments” ($2.8T in one quarter!) to make its books appear balanced though it could not account for where the funds had gone.

If you are interested in transparent and trackable information systems, that’s a headline that captures your attention!

Except that when you run it back to the original story, U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds by Scot J. Paltrow, which reads in part:

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

You won’t find a reference to the “June report,” as cited by Paltrow. No link, no title, no nothing.

In fact, there is no such June report.

If you look carefully enough at the Inspector General site for the DoD you will find:

Financial Management
Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported (Project No. D2015-D000FL-0243.000)

The webpage for that July report, reads in part:


The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller) (OASA[FM&C]) and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis (DFAS Indianapolis) did not adequately support $2.8 trillion in third quarter journal voucher (JV) adjustments and $6.5 trillion in yearend JV adjustments1 made to AGF data during FY 2015 financial statement compilation.2 The unsupported JV adjustments occurred because OASA(FM&C) and DFAS Indianapolis did not prioritize correcting the system deficiencies that caused errors resulting in JV adjustments, and did not provide sufficient guidance for supporting system‑generated adjustments.

In addition, DFAS Indianapolis did not document or support why the Defense Departmental Reporting System‑Budgetary (DDRS-B), a budgetary reporting system, removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million records during third quarter FY 2015. This occurred because DFAS Indianapolis did not have detailed documentation describing the DDRS-B import process or have accurate or complete system reports.

As a result, the data used to prepare the FY 2015 AGF third quarter and yearend financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail. Furthermore, DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions. Until the Army and DFAS Indianapolis correct these control deficiencies, there is considerable risk that AGF financial statements will be materially misstated and the Army will not achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline of September 30, 2017.

Everybody makes mistakes. I’m sure I make several everyday without hardly trying.

However, if you link to original sources, readers stand some chance of discovering and correcting those errors.

If you cite a resource, link to the resource.

PS: Before you use the word “fraud” with regard to military accounting systems, realize financial accounting is not a primary or even secondary concern of a military force. There are possible solutions to military accounting issues but congressional tantrums, a/k/a mandates, aren’t among them.

Corporate Bribery/Corruption – Poland/U.S./Russia – A Trio

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

GIJN (Global Investigation Journalism Network) tweeted a link to Corporate misconduct – individual consequences, 14th Global Fraud Survey this morning.

From the foreword by David L. Stulb:

In the aftermath of recent major terrorist attacks and the revelations regarding widespread possible misuse of offshore jurisdictions, and in an environment where geopolitical tensions have reached levels not seen since the Cold War, governments around the world are under increased pressure to face up to the immense global challenges of terrorist financing, migration and corruption. At the same time, certain positive events, such as the agreement by the P5+1 group (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) with Iran to limit Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities are grounds for cautious optimism.

These issues contribute to volatility in financial markets. The banking sector remains under significant regulatory focus, with serious stress points remaining. Governments, meanwhile, are increasingly coordinated in their approaches to investigating misconduct, including recovering the proceeds of corruption. The reason for this is clear. Bribery and corruption continue to represent a substantial threat to sluggish global growth and fragile financial markets.

Law enforcement agencies, including the United States Department of Justice and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, are increasingly focusing on individual misconduct when investigating impropriety. In this context, boards and executives need to be confident that their businesses comply with rapidly changing laws and regulations wherever they operate.

For this, our 14th Global Fraud Survey, EY interviewed senior executives with responsibility for tackling fraud, bribery and corruption. These individuals included chief financial officers, chief compliance officers, heads of internal audit and heads of legal departments. They are ideally placed to provide insight into the impact that fraud and corruption is having on business globally.

Despite increased regulatory activity, our research finds that boards could do significantly more to protect both themselves and their companies.

Many businesses have failed to execute anti-corruption programs to proactively mitigate their risk of corruption. Similarly, many businesses are not yet taking advantage of rich seams of information that would help them identify and mitigate fraud, bribery and corruption issues earlier.

Between October 2015 and January 2016, we interviewed 2,825 individuals from 62 countries and territories. The interviews identified trends, apparent contradictions and issues about which boards of directors should be aware.

Partners from our Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services practice subsequently supplemented the Ipsos MORI research with in-depth discussions with senior executives of multinational companies. In these interviews, we explored the executives’ experiences of operating in certain key business environments that are perceived to expose companies to higher fraud and corruption risks. Our conversations provided us with additional insights into the impact that changing legislation, levels of enforcement and cultural behaviors are having on their businesses. Our discussions also gave us the opportunity to explore pragmatic steps that leading companies have been taking to address these risks.

The executives to whom we spoke highlighted many matters that businesses must confront when operating across borders: how to adapt market-entry strategies in countries where cultural expectations of acceptable behaviors can differ; how to get behind a corporate structure to understand a third party’s true ownership; the potential negative impact that highly variable pay can have on incentives to commit fraud and how to encourage whistleblowers to speak up despite local social norms to the contrary, to highlight a few.

Our survey finds that many respondents still maintain the view that fraud, bribery and corruption are other people’s problems despite recognizing the prevalence of the issue in their own countries. There remains a worryingly high tolerance or misunderstanding of conduct that can be considered inappropriate — particularly among respondents from finance functions. While companies are typically aware of the historic risks, they are generally lagging behind on the emerging ones, for instance the potential impact of cybercrime on corporate reputation and value, while now well publicized, remains a matter of varying priority for our respondents. In this context, companies need to bolster their defenses. They should apply anti-corruption compliance programs, undertake appropriate due diligence on third parties with which they do business and encourage and support whistleblowers to come forward with confidence. Above all, with an increasing focus on the accountability of the individual, company leadership needs to set the right tone from the top. It is only by taking such steps that boards will be able to mitigate the impact should the worst happen.

This survey is intended to raise challenging questions for boards. It will, we hope, drive better conversations and ongoing dialogue with stakeholders on what are truly global issues of major importance.

We acknowledge and thank all those executives and business leaders who participated in our survey, either as respondents to Ipsos MORI or through meeting us in person, for their contributions and insights. (emphasis in original)

Apologies for the long quote but it was necessary to set the stage of the significance of:

…increasingly focusing on individual misconduct when investigating impropriety.

That policy grants a “bye” to corporations who benefit from individual mis-coduct, in favor of punishing individual actors within a corporation.

While granting the legitimacy of punishing individuals, corporations cannot act except by their agents, failing to punish corporations enables their shareholders to continue to benefit from illegal behavior.

Another point of significance, listing of countries on page 44, gives the percentage of respondents that agree “…bribery/corrupt practices happen widely…” as follows (in part):

Rank Country % Agree
30 Poland 34
31 Russia 34
32 U.S. 34

When the Justice Department gets hoity-toity about law and corruption, keep those figures in mind.

If the Justice Department representative you are talking to isn’t corrupt, it happens, there’s one on either side of them that probably is.

Topic maps can help ferret out or manage “corruption,” depending upon your point of view. Even structural corruption, take the U.S. political campaign donation process.

DoD IG Testimony [and reports]

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Office of Inspector General – United States Department of Defense – DoD IG Testimony.

I saw a tweet today from @DoD_IG touting the availability of written testimony to Congress going back to 1998.

It’s not everything you might wish for but eighteen years of testimony is a good start.

Playing with the interface a bit, I found that reports by the DoD IG date back to January of 1990.

If you are interested in the recurrent patterns of fraud in DoD operations, this is certainly a good starting place.

Government Travel Cards at Casinos or Adult Entertainment Establishments

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Audit of DoD Cardholders Who Used Government Travel Cards at Casinos or Adult Entertainment Establishments by Michael J. Roark, Assistant Inspector General, Contract Management and Payments, Department of Defense.

From the memorandum:

We plan to begin the subject audit in September 2015. The Senate Armed Services Committee requested this audit as a follow-on review of transactions identified in Report No. DODIG-2015-125, “DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments,” May 19, 2015. Our objective is to determine whether DoD cardholders who used government travel cards at casinos and adult entertainment establishments for personal use sought or received reimbursement for the charges. In addition, we will determine whether disciplinary actions have been taken in cases of personal use and if the misuse was repo1ted to the appropriate security office. We will consider suggestions from management on additional or revised objectives.

This project is a follow up to: Report No. DODIG-2015-125, “DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments” (May 19, 2015), which summarizes its findings as:

We are providing this report for your review and comment. We considered management comments on a draft of this report when preparing the final report. DoD cardholders improperly used their Government Travel Charge Card for personal use at casinos and adult entertainment establishments. From July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, DoD cardholders had 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258, where they likely used their travel cards at casinos for personal use and had 900 additional transactions for $96,576 at adult entertainment establishments. We conducted this audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Let me highlight that for you:

July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, DoD cardholders:

4,437 transactions at casinos for $952,258

900 transactions at adult entertainment establishments for $96,576

Are lap dances that cheap? 😉

Almost no one goes to a casino or adult entertainment establishment alone, so topic maps would be a perfect fit for finding “associations” between DoD personnel.

The current project is to track the outcome of the earlier report, that is what if any actions resulted.

What do you think?

Will the DoD personnel claim they were doing off the record surveillance of suspected information leaks? Or just checking their resistance to temptation?

Before I forget, here is the breakdown by service (from the May 19, 2015 report, page 6):


I don’t know what to make up the distribution of “adult transactions” between the services.


Audit Trails Anyone?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Instrumenting collaboration tools used in data projects:Built-in audit trails can be useful for reproducing and debugging complex data analysis projects by Ben Lorica.

From the post:

As I noted in a previous post, model building is just one component of the analytic lifecycle. Many analytic projects result in models that get deployed in production environments. Moreover, companies are beginning to treat analytics as mission-critical software and have real-time dashboards to track model performance.

Once a model is deemed to be underperforming or misbehaving, diagnostic tools are needed to help determine appropriate fixes. It could well be models need to be revisited and updated, but there are instances when underlying data sources1 and data pipelines are what need to be fixed. Beyond the formal systems put in place specifically for monitoring analytic products, tools for reproducing data science workflows could come in handy.

Ben goes onto suggest that an “activity log” is a great idea for capturing a work flow for later analysis/debugging. And so it is, but I would go one step further and capture some of the semantics of the work flow.

I knew a manager who had a “cheat sheet” of report writer jobs to run every month. They would pull the cheat sheet, enter the commands and produce the report. They were a roadblock to ever changing the system because then the “cheatsheet” would not work.

I am sure none of you have ever encountered the same situation. But I have seen it in at least one case.

Should Business Data Have An Audit Trail?

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The “second slide” I would lead with from Stuart Halloway’s Datomic, and How We Built It would be:

Should Business Data Have An Audit Trail?

Actually Stuart’s slide #65 but who’s counting? 😉

Stuart points out the irony of git, saying:

developer data is important enough to have an audit trail, but business data is not

Whether business data should always have an audit trail would attract shouts of yes and no, depending on the audience.

Regulators, prosecutors, good government types, etc., mostly shouting yes.

Regulated businesses, security brokers, elected officials, etc., mostly shouting no.

Some in between.

Datomic, which has some common characteristics with topic maps, gives you the ability to answer these questions:

  • Do you want auditable business data or not?
  • If yes to auditable business data, to what degree?

Rather different that just assuming it isn’t possible.


Datomic is a database of flexible, time-based facts, supporting queries and joins, with elastic scalability and ACID transactions. Datomic queries run your application process, giving you both declarative and navigational access to your data. Datomic facts (“datoms”) are time-aware and distributed to all system peers, enabling OLTP, analytics, and detailed auditing in real time from a single system.

In this talk, I will begin with an overview of Datomic, covering the problems that it is intended to solve and how its data model, transaction model, query model, and deployment model work together to solve those problems. I will then use Datomic to illustrate more general points about designing and implementing production software, and where I believe our industry is headed. Key points include:

  • the pragmatic adoption of functional programming
  • how dynamic languages fare in mission- and performance- critical settings
  • the importance of data, and the perils of OO
  • the irony of git, or why developers give themselves better databases than they give their customers
  • perception, coordination, and reducing the barriers to scale


  • Video from CME Group Technology Conference 2012
  • Slides from CME Group Technology Conference 2012