Regular readers of Liberty Nation will undoubtedly be familiar with our consistent coverage of the fraud, waste, and abuse of tax dollars within the Department of Defense’s coffers. Even when other government agencies have been meeting their financial reporting requirements since the 1990s, the DoD has famously never been audited.
In 2010 the National Defense Authorization Act gave the DoD a seven-year grace period to get their house in order. That time has run out, and Pentagon officials have announced that the Department of Defense is beginning a massive audit.
The Need for Accountability
A significant portion of taxpayer money goes towards military spending. At over 50% of discretionary funding and more than 15% of the budget as a whole, the Department of Defense gets a very large piece of the budgetary pie. While this is not inherently a bad thing, utilizing government funds comes with it the requirement to be a good steward of the public’s money. The Pentagon’s record in that regard has been less than stellar.
Liberty Nation has reported on multiple instances of wasteful spending and other monetary tomfoolery within the DoD. These have ranged from buying camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army that doesn’t work to using a fuel purchasing account as a veritable slush fund, to burying the Defense Business Board’s findings that the Pentagon had $125 billion in administrative waste.
The Department of Defense’s track record is evidence of what every hard working American already knows: when people are not held accountable for the money they are given, they will be irresponsible with it.
The Way Forward
The Pentagon is sending 2,400 auditors across the entire organization. They will examine each branch of service, equipment, facilities, personnel, bases, and every other aspect of military spending. According to the department officials, the DoD is estimated to have around $2.4 trillion in assets.
“Estimate” is the operative word. Having never undergone an audit, the military does not know exactly what it has. This should not seem surprising; just ask any unit commander who has found a shipping container of equipment that “wasn’t on the books.”
It would appear that the Pentagon finally has their act together. Daniel L. Norquist, Defense Department Comptroller, has said that starting in 2018 audits will be yearly and reports will be issued on the 15th of November.
Time will tell what the audit reveals and how it will affect defense spending. Given this nation’s history of bloated defense projects (here’s looking at you F-35) it is unlikely that much will change. This, unfortunately, is not a military problem. It is a Congressional one.
Throwing money at the problem is a long-favored pastime for politicians, and it extends to military projects as well. Hopefully, the audits will shine a light on the dark corners of the budget and help the government become a leaner, more efficient entity.
I would not hold your breath.