By Kristina Wong - 02/06/14 06:02 PM EST
The Pentagon comptroller compared getting the department audit-ready to “pushing a heavy block across sandpaper,” but said the department was making major progress on getting there by 2017.
“Over the past four years, we've worked hard to improve financial information in DOD and to achieve auditable statements or at least audit-ready statements,” said Robert Hale, Pentagon comptroller, during a ceremony on Thursday.
In December, the Marine Corps became the first military service to successfully undergo an audit. The Pentagon has set a goal to be fully audit-ready by 2017.
Hale, the longest-serving comptroller in Pentagon history, is stepping down from the position, and will be succeeded by his top deputy, Michael McCord.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel congratulated Hale, defense civilians and service members at the ceremony on their efforts to make the Pentagon more accountable to taxpayers.
"I know that it might seem a bit unusual to be in the Hall of Heroe to honor a bookkeeping accomplishment, but, damn, this is an accomplishment," he said.
However, the two acknowledged there was still a ways to go.
“If you stop pushing, it stops moving. It’s not inertia,” Hale said. “It’s friction, because everybody’s so busy with the mission, it’s hard to focus on business kinds of transactions.”
"We want to be in a position to comply with the promises that we've made to the Congress and to the American peole that we would be audit-ready and audit-compliant, and we're moving towards that," Hagel said.
"So to the services here who have worked very hard, continue to work very hard, and all here who represent all of our services, thank you for your continued good wor," he said.