The Audit the Pentagon Act includes both carrots and sticks to help the Defense Department comply with financial accountability laws. First, the bill ends some out-of-date reporting requirements that bog the Pentagon down. And it increases the authority of the Pentagon to reprogram other funds without seeking new congressional approval.

But if the Pentagon fails to account for how it spends taxpayer money, the act forbids all major new weapon systems to move beyond the research and development phase. The bill also creates a chief management officer and transfers the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to the Treasury Department — the same agency that administers payments for the rest of the federal government.

Not all Pentagon spending is wasteful. Much of it is absolutely essential to accomplishing the federal government’s primary reason for existence: ensuring the nation’s security. But if the DoD can’t even explain how it spends taxpayer money, then good Pentagon programs must be cut along with the bad.