For the second straight year, the Department of Homeland Security has achieved a much sought-after clean audit of its financial statements by an independent auditor, department officials said Monday.

The audit, by the firm of KPMG, found that DHS’s financial statements were in order, with the auditors certifying that they had “reasonable assurance that what they saw on those documents is correct,’’ Chip Fulghum, DHS’s chief financial officer and acting undersecretary of management said in an interview.

The auditors gave the department what is known as an unqualified audit opinion; a qualified, or un-clean audit, would have meant that the auditors could not reasonably certify the statements as accurate.


Jeh Johnson has served as Secretary of Homeland Security for the past two years. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Under federal law, every Cabinet-level agency opens its books to independent auditors each year, and all but the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development received clean audits last year, government documents show.

But for nearly all of its first decade of existence, DHS was unable to achieve a clean audit because it had been created by combining 22 federal agencies and components into one massive department. That led to inherent challenges, since each component had its own financial management systems, Fulghum said.

“They all came with their own accounting, their own accounting codes, they had different ledger systems. It was just very difficult for us to get our arms around it,’’  Fulghum said.

DHS achieved its first clean audit last year, and Fulghum said the improved financial statement picture should give “confidence that DHS now knows where its dollars are and how they are being spent.’’

That is especially critical for an agency whose primary mission is to protect the homeland from terrorist attacks and respond to natural disasters, he added.

In a statement, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson hailed the audit results.

“For the third largest Department of our government, only 11 years old, and consisting of 22 components, 240,000 personnel, a 60 billion dollar budget, and six core financial systems with hundreds of feeder systems, I consider this a remarkable achievement,” Johnson said. “This is another example of the good work by the men and women of this Department in support of our homeland security mission.