When It’s All About Imaginary Numbers, It’s Time to Audit the Pentagon

When It’s All About Imaginary Numbers, It’s Time to Audit the Pentagon

When you misplace your keys, you look for them, right? Okay, do you burn $20 bills for fun? Probably not. So how would you feel if you lost a wad of $100 dollar bills? Now add a whole bunch of zeros to that. How would you feel if you ‘lost’ $8.5 trillion? That’s the Pentagon’s special number. Trillions of taxpaper money has been left unaccounted for since the late 90s. You’ve no doubt heard of Paul’s push to ‘Audit the Fed’. It’s high time to Audit the Pentagon too.

Special Enterprise Reporter Scot Paltrow unearthed the “high cost of the Pentagon’s bad bookkeeping” in a Reuters investigation. It amounts to $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 that has never been accounted for. (The year 1996 was the first that the Pentagon should have been audited under a law requiring audits of all government departments. Oh, and by the way, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with this law.) (Daily Ticker)

So what’s one hypothetical answer for what’s going on here? First, imagine balancing your checkbook for December and noticing that $500 is missing. You’ve kept all your receipts and your bank statement doesn’t show an entry in that amount. Your solution would be to shrug it off and pencil in a $500 debit and move on, right? Maybe you’ll find it in your coat pocket when you take your dog out in the morning. Meanwhile, everything is balanced – ta da! Magic! Out of sight, out of mind!

Except that scenario is real. It’s been happening within the Department of Defense every month for years and multiplied by way more than $500:

Business Insider reports on people who have come forward to discuss the Pentagon’s fraud, including a 15-year employee with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS, named Linda Woodford.

…Until she retired in 2011, Woodford says the numbers given to her office always seemed to have inaccurate numbers or expenses that had no explanation. Typically, the numbers would not come until two days before the monthly report was due. To get the job done quickly, Woodford says she was told to make “unsubstantiated change actions” to square the budget figures. Essentially, she was asked to enter fraudulent numbers, called “plugs.”

The Pentagon’s fraud should not come as a great surprise, as the body is rarely if ever held accountable for its budget. (Inquisitr)

And this spin-rolls into another problem: Because there’s no paper trail, the Defense Department can’t track what it has. It winds up amassing years’ worth of equipment and inventory that they don’t need, according to Business Insider. That is if the money is actually going towards goods and services delivered. There’s no paper trail. They’re essentially throwing taxpayer money into the ether.

With naive optimism, we could say that this massive waste by the Pentagon is just a result of poor record-keeping. Hey, maybe we can get together and sell them a vacuum cleaner with jet wings in the hopes that they’ll ‘accidentally’ buy it for $3 million dollars…every year…for ten years. It might work… if it’s only a case of ‘poor bookkeeping‘, cough.

During the 2012 Republican Convention, Paul told Republicans that we “need to acknowledge that not every dollar is well spent or sacred in the military and we have to look for ways to make every department accountable.”

He mentioned at the Citadel last month plans to form a task force and Audit the Pentagon to “eliminate waste and non-defense items” and “better take care of our true defense needs.”

We’ll hear more soon until then defense spending will be cut $20 billion next year due to the sequester (Daily Ticker). (As long as the recent budget deal doesn’t undo that.)

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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