Accounting ErrorsI am writing to request that you correct...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 19, 1993

Accounting Errors

I am writing to request that you correct in print technical errors in Richard H. P. Sia's July 2 article, "Army funds mishandled, GAO says."

The first paragraph states that "the Army inadvertently paid . . . people who had quit the service." That is incorrect.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), a Department of Defense (DOD) agency, is responsible, and has been since January 1991, for the payroll system. In other words, the Army is DOD's customer.

As you can imagine when you centralize functions primarily done at local sites, some issues and problems surfaced which were not anticipated.

Since November 1991, when the Army informed DFAS about an apparent problem with the military payroll, the Army has been working with the DFAS to ensure the accuracy of the military payroll. We provided literally hundreds of personnel to DFAS to assist in resolving problems.

As stated during the testimony, the individual services maintain personnel records. These records reflect retirements, promotions, separations and discharges.

Currently, the financial records and the personnel records systems are not integrated. Prior to the introduction of the new pay system, the local finance office ensured the comparisons were done.

Now that the responsibility resides at DFAS, no comparison of the two records can be conducted using the software embedded at DFAS. Again, we are working with DFAS to build data exchanges that will automatically ensure that the military payroll and personnel records are compatible.

In Mr. Sia's second paragraph, he discusses the recovery of overpayments to contractors by investigators who "conducted a sweeping audit of the Army's 1992 books."

Again, he has made a technical mistake. The audit was conducted on the Department of Defense. DFAS is responsible for the payments to contractors. This recovery of overpayments had nothing to do with the Army.

Let me assure you and your readers that the Army is a responsible steward of the resources entrusted to it. GAO expects the Army to produce financial statements when they know our existing systems are not capable of achieving the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act standards. We will require new data processing systems to comply with CFO.

The current GAO standard suggests that unless you know the financial value of the clothing in your closet, you don't know what's in it. That is simply not true.

Lt. Gen. Merle Freitag

Washington

The writer is comptroller of the Army.

Illiberal

We were pleased The Sun gave us the opportunity to respond to claims recently made by a representative of an anti-gun group. However, one typographical error The Sun made in printing our letter may have created a false impression about the views of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the politics of "gun control."

In our last letter ("Guns and Law," July 6) we noted that "NRA has been generally successful at preventing those with illiberal ambitions from passing unconstitutional gun laws." Our word, "illiberal," was mistakenly printed as "liberal," suggesting that NRA views "gun control" as a "liberal/conservative" issue.

Firearms rights are supported by liberals and conservatives alike, and neither NRA's members in particular, nor gun owners in general, can be identified by any common political label.

Likewise, those who oppose firearms rights for all Americans, regardless of their race, gender or other identifying feature, oppose liberty as the Founding Fathers understood it. Such political activists are, we believe, "illiberal."

Mark H. Overstreet

Washington

The writer represents the National Rifle Association.

Wealthy?

In your editorial on June 24 titled ''The Republican Nyet'' you write that the Republicans are saying "Nyet" to a number of taxes including, "Nyet to higher taxes on the wealthy recipients of Social Security benefits"

I don't believe the Republicans classified Social Security recipients whose income (including Social Security benefits) exceed $32,000 a year as wealthy. Only The Baltimore Sun and a few misguided politicians do this.

Do you consider yourself or your colleagues wealthy? I am sure their income and yours is more than $32,000 or $40,000 a year. If you don't consider yourselves wealthy, why are you insisting that we retirees at that level of total income are part of the rich and wealthy class? I cannot understand your reasoning.

Stanford Hershfield

Glenarm

Fairy Tales

The chart with your story "Forms show Bartlett, Cardin are millionaires" (June 12) stretched the credulity of even the most chronic believers.

For example, if Sen. Paul Sarbanes' home is worth a mere $100,000 (at least), the balance of his "net worth" is a grand $18,000.

On the other hand, if his house is worth as much as $118,000 (at least), he has no other assets. This is all he has to show for decades of public service?

And poor Wayne Gilchrest. His princely congressional salary not withstanding, his net worth is but $4,000 (at least). He's teetering on the edge of poverty.

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