15 years and counting: Commissaries continue streak of clean financial audits
FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 9, 2017) – Balancing its financial books is an annual ritual for the Defense Commissary Agency. So it's no surprise to the men and women who deliver the benefit that they've now eclipsed the 15-year mark in effectively managing their annual appropriations.
Independent auditors recently gave DeCA an "unmodified" audit opinion for its fiscal 2016 financial statements, continuing a string of clean audits dating to 2002.
"Despite this ongoing achievement, we do not take for granted our responsibility for managing the appropriated funds related to delivering the commissary benefit," said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. "We cannot effectively serve the men and women who earned this benefit if our finances are not in order."
DeCA received $1.4 billion in appropriated funding for fiscal 2016. During that timeframe the agency generated more than $5.5 billion in annual sales and processed almost 87 million transactions in its stores, while delivering $2.3 billion in patron savings. Commissaries also redeemed both paper and digital coupons for additional customer savings of nearly $68 million.
"Daily functions such as time and attendance, and accounting for resale items, equipment and property are all evaluated to determine if our financial statements are presented properly," said Larry Bands, the agency's chief financial officer. "We cannot stress enough what this level of financial transparency means for the credibility of this agency."
DeCA's financial "presentation" is evaluated by auditors from the CliftonLarsonAllen auditing firm, one of the 10 largest CPA firms in the country. Each year they visit DeCA headquarters and commissaries and peel back the layers of the agency's financial statements and check related internal controls and transactions.
Ultimately, CliftonLarsonAllen certifies the work of DeCA's accounting division, who collect and process the financial data that's audited, ensuring the numbers add up properly, said Edna Willis, chief of the compliance and reporting branch in the resource management directorate.
"Through this annual audit and our subsequent unmodified opinions, our patrons and stakeholders can rest assured that the commissary benefit's financial ledger is accurate and transparent," Willis said.
With so many store operations that mimic a commercial business, DeCA is definitely not the typical government agency. However, like all government agencies, DeCA must still demonstrate its ability to be responsible caretaker of the commissary benefit, Willis said.
"It may seem as if the annual audit is old hat for us, but it's a drill we welcome," Willis said. "Whether they're at a commissary, a central distribution center, the meat processing plant or a headquarters element, our employees take pride in serving an effective, efficient and transparent benefit to our patrons."