Though we live in the age of austerity, at least concerning the 99%, the Department of Defense gets around $600 billion a year. More funds than any other military in the world. More funds than the next ten highest spending countries combined.
So what happens to all that money once it enters the Pentagon? No one can really say.
For the last 20 or so years the Department of Defense has not been able to properly audit its finances leaving many in Congress and elsewhere unconvinced that it ever will. Trillions are already estimated to have been wasted.
In a recent renewed push to get some kind of sense of the ocean of taxpayer funds sloshing around the DoD abyss Congress has demanded that DoD be ready for an audit in 2017. The Pentagon’s finance chief is already trying to manage expectations.
“Meeting this goal has been more of a challenge than I expected,” said Robert Hale, undersecretary and chief financial officer for the DOD. “We’ve made more progress in the last few years than any other period.”…
“We understand, after 20 years of unauditable financial statements, Congress is skeptical” about DOD progress, Hale said.
Not all of this opacity is due to the flexibility needed to fund war operations. Much of the failure to present books that could be audited is due to waste, fraud and abuse. The GAO lists the Pentagon as high risk for fraud and waste as DoD is currently spending approximately $2 billion per day.
The hypocrisy in DC is pretty astounding. No one, particularly Tea Party Republicans, can shut up about government waste and fraud, yet they continue to give $600 billion a year to a department that is so fiscally mismanaged it has not been able to perform a substantive audit for a generation.
Photo by David B. Gleason under Creative Commons license