November 20, 2018 AntiWar.com & Reuters & Ron Paul / The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity
After generations of being a black hole down which money goes, never to return, a team of 1,200 auditors tried to give the Pentagon its first-ever comprehensive audit. Unsurprisingly, it went poorly, and was declared a failure. How bad the failure was is something of a mystery at this point, with officials refusing to disclose the exact results, or even ballpark how much money is unaccounted for. The only clue to the sheer scope of the matter is that they believe it will take "years" to sort out.
Pentagon Fails Its First-Ever Audit Officials offer few details, but say it will take years to resolve Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
WASHINGTON (November 15, 2018) -- After generations of being a black hole down which money goes, never to return, a team of 1,200 auditors tried to give the Pentagon its first ever comprehensive audit, just to see where all that money went. Unsurprisingly, it went poorly, and was declared a failure.
How bad the failure was is something of a mystery at this point, with officials refusing to disclose the exact results, or even ballpark how much money is unaccounted for. The only clue to the sheer scope of the matter is that they believe it will take "years" to sort out.
And if there was one thing more dependable than the Pentagon failing an audit and missing an undisclosed, but vast, amount of money, it's officials downplaying the matter. Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told reporters that the Pentagon "never expected to pass it" in the first place.
Indeed, Shanahan insisted that even though the Pentagon failed the audit, the fact that they even bothered to do an audit at all "is substantial," and shows effort toward compliance. That said, he said the issue of audits is "irritating to me."
WASHINGTON (November 15, 2018) -- The Pentagon has failed what is being called its first-ever comprehensive audit, a senior official said on Thursday, finding US Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve.
Results of the inspection -- conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property -- were expected to be completed later in the day.
"We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it," Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, adding that the findings showed the need for greater discipline in financial matters within the Pentagon.
"It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial," Shanahan added.
The US defense budget for the 2018 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was about $700 billion. The Pentagon is a huge agency with multiple branches of the military, costly weapons systems, large personnel needs, numerous military bases of various sizes at home and abroad and troops deployed in far-flung locales.
Shanahan said areas the Pentagon must improve upon based on the audit results include compliance with cybersecurity policies and improving inventory accuracy. In a briefing with reporters, he did not provide a figure detailing how much money was unaccounted for in the audit.
It was unclear what consequences there would be after the audit, but Shanahan said the focus would be on fixing the issues.
"We need to develop our plans to address the findings and actually put corrective actions in place," Shanahan said.
"Some of the compliance issues are irritating to me. . . . The point of the audit is to drive better discipline in our compliance with our management systems and procedures," Shanahan added.
A 1990 federal law mandated that US government agencies be audited, but the Pentagon had not faced a comprehensive audit until this one was launched in December.
Defense officials and outside experts have said it may be years before the Pentagon is able to fix its accounting gaps and errors and pass an audit.
"To clarify, the audit is not a 'pass-fail' process. We did not receive an 'adverse' finding -- the lowest possible category -- in any area," US Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email.
(November 20, 2018) -- The Pentagon has finally completed its first ever audit and the results are as many of us expected. After spending nearly a billion dollars to find out what has happened to trillions in unaccounted-for spending, the long look through the books has concluded that only ten percent of all Pentagon agencies pass muster. I am surprised any of them did.
Even the Pentagon is not surprised by the failure of the audit. "We failed the audit. But we never expected to pass it," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Can we imagine any large US company subject to the prying eyes of the IRS being so unfazed by the discovery that its books have been so mishandled?
As with all government programs, but especially when it comes to military spending, the failure of a program never leads to calls for funding reductions. The Pentagon's failure to properly account for the trillions of taxpayer dollars shoveled in year after year only means, they say, that we need to send more money! Already they are claiming that with more resources – meaning money – they can fix some of the problems identified by the audit.
If you subsidize something you get much more of it, and in this case we are subsidizing Pentagon incompetence. Expect much more of it.
Outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, warned against concluding that this mishandling trillions of dollars should make us hesitant to continue sending trillions more to the Pentagon. The failed audit "should not be used as an excuse for arbitrary cuts that reverse the progress we have begun on rebuilding our strength and readiness," he said.
The neocons concur. Writing in the Free Beacon, editor Matthew Continetti (who happens to be Bill Kristol's son-in-law) warns that now is "the wrong time to cut defense."
But I agree with the young neoconservative Continetti. I would never support cutting a penny of defense. However the Pentagon's lost trillions have nothing to do with defense. That is money propping up the high lifestyles of those connected to the military-industrial complex.
Continetti and the neocons love to throw out bogeymen like China and Russia as excuses for more military spending, but in fact they are hardly objective observers. Look at how much the military contractors spend funding the neocon publications and neocon think tanks telling us that we need more military spending! All this money is stolen from the productive economy and diverted to enrich neocon cheerleaders at our expense.
Of course the real problem with the Pentagon and military spending in general is not waste, fraud, and abuse. It is not ten thousand dollar toilet seats or coffee mugs. The problem with military spending is the philosophy that drives it.
If the US strategy is to maintain a global military empire, there will never be enough spending. Because there is never enough to control every corner of the globe. But if we are to return to a well-defended republic, military spending could easily be reduced by 75 percent while keeping us completely safe. The choice is ours!
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