$10 Trillion Heist: The Pentagon Has Never Been Audited

The Department of Defense has never had an audit. The result? $10 trillion in taxpayer money has gone unaccounted for since 1996

Wed, Mar 22, 2017 | 4260 Comments
We're sure everything is accounted for.
We're sure everything is accounted for.

Washington's proposed $52 billion increase in military spending is beautiful news if you work in Lockheed Martin's showroom. But maybe it's time for a quick little audit before the American people write the Pentagon another blank check?

We know that it's extremely inconvenient to have to keep track of "how" money is spent. The fact of the matter is that the money gets spent — shouldn't that satisfy our curiosity? 

Not when $10 trillion is unaccounted for since 1996:

although it’s required to by law, the DoD has never had an audit, something every American person, every company and every other government agency is subject to. The result is an astounding $10tn in taxpayer money that has gone unaccounted for since 1996.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” the director of the Audit the Pentagon coalition, Rafael DeGennaro, told the Guardian. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.”

Legislation in the early 1990s demanded that all government agencies had annual audits, but the Pentagon has exempted itself without consequence for 20 years now, telling the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that collecting and organizing the required information for a full audit is too costly and time-consuming.

In the meantime, the GAO and Office of the Inspector General (IG) have published an endless stream of reports documenting financial mismanagement: $500m in aid to Yemen lost here, $5.8bn in supplies lost there, $8,000 spent on helicopter gears that really cost $500.

Of course, we certainly can't blame the Trump administration for the Pentagon's lack of fiscal responsibility. Previous administrations have pointed it out — but unforeseen circumstances seem to block all attempts at reform. 

Let's not forget that Donald Rumsfeld said that "the adversary is [close] to home. It is the Pentagon bureaucracy," and announced that the Defense Department was unable to track $2.3 trillion in transactions

Rumsfeld's war on DoD excesses was shelved almost immediately. The day after he made his remarks, the Pentagon was attacked

In 2003, Reuters reported that "the Pentagon's doctored ledgers conceal epic waste", and detailed how DoD accountants were told to make "unsubstantiated change actions" — in other words, to enter false numbers to make the Pentagon totals match the Treasury's. 

The Pentagon is a giant embezzling racket. Even without an audit, the criminality is brazen.