Audit Reveals Pentagon Agency Can't Account For Hundreds Of Millions In Spending
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by Countable | 2.6.18
What’s the story?
According to an exclusive report by Politico, an internal audit of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) revealed that the Pentagon purchasing agent could not properly account for $800 million in construction projects, as well as hundreds of millions in property and equipment. This week Congress is debating an increase to the defense budget of tens of millions of dollars, though a Pentagon-wide audit has never been completed in compliance with the law.
Currently, the Defense Department’s annual budget stands at approximately $700 billion. The Defense Department as a whole has a combined $2.2 trillion in assets. A full audit of the Pentagon will require an "army of auditors" 1,200 strong and cost upwards of $1 billion.
No administration has ever completed the task successfully. But David Norquist, the Pentagon's top budget official, told Congress in January that starting in 2018 Pentagon audits will occur annually, with reports issued November 15.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has repeatedly pushed for accountability for spending at the Pentagon, though he is skeptical if it’s possible:
"keeping track of the people’s money may not be in the Pentagon’s DNA."
A poor audit report does not necessarily mean money is being spent improperly, but it does mean that the systems are not in place to fully enable mandated oversight by Congress or transparency for the American public.
The U.S. military budget has many component parts. Republicans in the House are expected to advance a spending plan that adds $30 billion annually to the base Defense Department budget, though the Senate may not agree to a similar increase. Regardless, the Politico report raises questions about whether or not the Pentagon will be able to account for whatever taxpayer funding Congress finally approves.
What do you think?
Should government funding be contingent on clean audit reports? Does any government agency need more money if they can’t account for where the money they’re already budgeted goes? Or is the sheer enormity of the federal government mean we’ll never know where all the money goes and we should just stop asking?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: David B. Gleason via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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