The Department of Defense has yet to pass an independent audit of its books, having failed three times to assemble balance sheets that can pass muster.

But the DoD is now confident it actually can pass an audit, and do so with flying colors…by 2028. Maybe:

…Defense officials emphasized that the 2028 date is by no means a sure thing, but it’s not chosen out of thin air either. It coincides with the current schedule for DoD officials to finish implementing corrective action plans to address the material weaknesses the first few audits have identified.

What are the sticking points preventing a clean audit? Part of it is antiquated technology:

…the IG pointed to 26 separate material weaknesses during the fiscal 2020 audit. The previous year’s audit included a catch-all material weakness dealing with financial IT systems, but auditors decided it made more sense to describe those problems in more granular detail. Those four “new” weaknesses are legacy systems, configuration management and security management, access controls, and segregation of duties.

And the new formulation illustrates the extent to which outdated information technology plays a role in DoD’s auditibility problems. Out of the more than 3,500 separate findings auditors made in 2020, about half had to do with IT.

But there are other problems well outside the IT department. One problem spot: the troubled F-35 program…

More than three million pieces of government-owned property for the F-35 – worth more than $2 billion – are completely unaccounted for, at least as far as DoD’s financial statements are concerned.

Then there’s the stuff the DoD has but didn’t know about:

The audit helped the service realize [the Navy] had millions of pieces of property sitting in its inventory that it simply didn’t know about from an enterprise point-of-view.

Alaleh Jenkins, the Navy’s acting comptroller, said the actions the service has had to take to help deal with the property issues the audit identified have led to the discovery of more than $3 billion in spare parts thus far.

Add up more such examples and it’s easy to see why the Pentagon not only hasn’t passed an audit yet, but why it will also take another seven years (at least) before it can.