The Washington Post

Arlington Cemetery disputes reports, says $12 million isn't missing

Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday strongly disputed news reports, based on federal audits, that the cemetery could not account for $12 million that had been allocated to it between 2004 and 2010.

In a statement, the cemetery said that it had “fully accounted for these funds” and that “as part of the process of instituting new financial management controls and oversight, Arlington National Cemetery’s resource managers meticulously reviewed years of financial records and recovered funds that were sent to Department of Defense agencies that support the cemetery.”

The cemetery released its statement a day after a Senate subcommittee hearing during which Army officials were questioned about the $12 million in unspent funds identified by the Army inspector general. During the hearing, cemetery officials did not dispute the figure and did not provide any additional information about their efforts to reclaim unspent funds.

Afterward, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the hearing, told reporters that she was concerned that the cemetery could not account for the $12 million, which she said was the result of “gross mismanagement” by the cemetery’s previous leadership.

On Thursday, however, cemetery officials said that since the report was issued in September, they have been able to recover $12 million by continuing to reconcile contracts for work and services with the federal agencies in charge of dispersing those funds.

McCaskill was not entirely satisfied.

“While I understand that Arlington management is now indicating that the money has been located, as a former auditor I will not be satisfied until outside auditors confirm this information,” she said in a statement, promising to “continue to track progress and monitor outside audits, until every gravesite is checked, and every dollar accounted for.”

In an interview, Jennifer Lynch, a cemetery spokeswoman, said congressional leaders, officials with the inspector general’s office and federal auditors had been briefed on how the cemetery was going about reclaiming and accounting for the millions of dollars of unspent money.

She said that the auditors “are confident we’re on the right track” and that they are scheduled to reexamine the cemetery’s books in June to make sure everything is accounted for. In all, the cemetery said it had recovered $26.7 million.

Officials from the Army Audit Agency and the inspector general’s office could not be reached for comment.

Christian Davenport covers federal contracting for The Post's Financial desk. He joined The Post in 2000 and has served as an editor on the Metro desk and as a reporter covering military affairs. He is the author of "As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard."


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