Pentagon auditors doctored documents

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The Independent US

The Pentagon's auditors spent 1,139 hours altering their own files in order to pass an internal review, say investigators who found that the accounting sleuths engaged in just the kind of wasteful activity they are supposed to expose.

When the auditors in the New York City office learnt in advance which files a review team would check, they spent the equivalent of 47 days doctoring and updating records from several audits, the Defence Department's inspector general discovered. Administrative staff, audit supervisors and other employees also participated.

The fabrication at the Defence Contract Audit Agency "certainly violates the spirit and intent" of government auditing standards and rules on ethical conduct, said the inspector general's report. The agency, which audits government contracts, is the same one that recently reported that Halliburton, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former company, may have overcharged the army $61m (£33m) for petrol in Iraq.

The audit agency ran up some charges of its own. Auditors travelling in from other offices to help make the changes cost taxpayers $1,600 in travel expenses.

To stop any fabrications in the future, the review teams will only give 48 hours advance notice of the files they want to inspect. The advance time under the previous policy was much longer.