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Published: Thursday, Nov. 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

Why worry about it? They can always just ask for more.

Our Military Budget is far too big.

"Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed. "

"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why would we spend money on things the military doesnt want?

Because they are produced in Ohio, a politically important state.

As long as this kind of thing is happening, our military budget is much too bit.

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

Without even bothering to read the article. "In my opinion: Accounting problems in the United States Government."

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

I wonder if the figures presented in the editorial were correct. It stated: ". . . the Pentagon cannot account for more than $8 trillion in taxpayer money it has received since 1996". Doing the math shows that over that seventeen year period, that on average over $470 billion per year cannot be accounted for. $470 billion is more than half of the defense budget per year. Did someone misplace some zeros?

I agree that proper accounting must be used and that those who spend the money must account for every dollar. That would also mean that every Senator must demand an accounting for all military spending within the Senator's State. That would also mean that the CIA open its books, because it is widely held that most of the CIA's funding comes from those "lost dollars" that the military hasn't properly reported.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Good job DN!

Yes, this is a huge problem which goes unnoticed and unmentioned in all the debates/discussions about the debt.

Why is that?

One reason:
It is much easier to demonize/portray the poor and needy as fraudsters. They're not going to funnel money to your opponent in a campaign.

CLM
Draper, UT

$8 trillion military dollars gone missing since 1996? $500 billion in current contracts unaccounted for, and that figure ALONE larger than the combined total defense budgets of the next TEN largest militaries? 2,000-5,000 subdivisions of the Pentagon without standardized bookkeeping?

The author calls it "not acceptable." I call it absolute insanity.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "And it’s not as if the Pentagon is unaware of the problem."

Of course the military is aware of the problem. It was forced on us years ago by Congress and political appointees, to benefit major crony capitalists and campaign contributors. And those are the interests that have resisted all military efforts to bring the situation under control.

This predictable jab is nothing more than their pathetic effort to blame their malfeasance on military members.

Since the enactment of the Hatch Act, criminalizing the established practice of holding up government employees for campaign contributions, the primary campaign-funding vehicle for incumbents has been the graft and corruption inherent in the processes used to procure and repair military equipment.

And, you can bet that any serious reform would make politicians look so bad, it'll never actually happen.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

Well Well Procur. We totally agree.

So much time is spent on far too many petty, insignificant and trivial issues. Here is one that we should ALL be able to get behind.

But, you hit the nail on the head. Both R and D cater to those with something to offer. Be it corporate contributions and lobbying, or Union contributions and lobbying. Those are the deep pockets.

And they corrupt our governments. And they are totally legal.

Until both sides, right and left, join forces to stop this congressional bribery, it will never change. It is a much bigger problem for our country than most of the things that people get irate about.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Don't be fooled, people.

The far bigger problem is food stamps and the entitlement society Democrats have used to poison our free enterprise system.

(Sheesh)

SCfan
clearfield, UT

To any who might want to jump on the military about this irresponsible loss of money. I do hope you will acknowledge that this problem is widespread throughout the entire federal government. Big government results in big bureauracy, lots of money, and lots of unaccounted for spending. Once something gets so big, with so many people involved and too large for any one person, or group to keep track of, these things will naturally occur. And remember, the military budget, big as it is, is not the biggest of the huge government programs. Of course if Obamacare ever really does fully take place, it will grow and grow until it dwarfs the rest of the budgets combined.

casual observer
Salt Lake City, UT

The problem is not isolated to the military. The GAO is often as guilty of wasting public funds as the other government agencies they investigate. When it's not your money that is being wasted, people lose interest in oversight and efficiency.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"The far bigger problem is food stamps and the entitlement society Democrats have used to poison our free enterprise system."

You mean like Medicare part D? The largest entitlement program enacted in 40 years?

The one championed by a Republican President, A Republican House and A Republican Senate?

Yes, we have an entitlement society. But to be sure, the GOP has certainly been complicit, as well as a leading proponent.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

"...the Pentagon cannot account for more than $8 trillion in taxpayer money it has received since 1996. Furthermore, military leaders acknowledge the problem exists while admitting to the failure of efforts to fix it...".

A trillion here...a trillion there...

Since 1996.

So that would pretty much preclude blaming D's/R's?

Why not run the audit back to the good old days of the Ronald Reagan military build-up?

Report the amount "lost" in todays dollars...

Maybe later...

Fitz
Murray, UT

Reuters did an in-depth story on this issue a couple of days ago. The numbers quoted in the editorial are similar to those in the Reuters article. The computer systems they use for accounting purposes are 30 years old, and they do not interface with each other. The accounting system is a mess, in the Pentagon, and in all federal agencies.

Under GAAP, they are supposed to be able to have financial reports that are auditable, the Pentagon does not, nor are they really trying. And many of the other federal agencies also are in breach of GAAP. No one in the Congressional Budget Office, or the President's Budget Office, can, with certainty, tell us how much taxpayer money is really spent and where it goes. It is disgusting, especially when we have the technology today to meet the GAAP requirements.

Congress has passed laws mandating that the Pentagon, as well as all other federal agencies, comply with GAAP and provide auditable financial statements. Someday, that may really happen. The federal government is in sad shape.

CLM
Draper, UT

No question that severe economic sabotage is carried out by entitlements (including corporate welfare) spending as much, if not more, than defense spending. And we're likely stuck with *all* these programs for reasons already stated here, until they bankrupt our country--whatever's good for politicians and crony capitalists isn't easily curtailed.

However, even if every single dollar continued to be budgeted to these burgeoning entitlement programs, at the *very least* those huge dollars could be accounted for properly. That these unimaginable sums are going unaccounted for and virtually audit-proof is beyond appalling. Pie in the sky to think it might change, maybe...but it's our money!

And while Medicare and other social programs are ladened with fraud and questionable accounting, there is indication to believe there is far more in the way of poor accounting, waste, and superfluous spending in the military. And we have no idea exactly how much is being spent (and wasted)in the Pentagon, due to "black budget" allocations. The military budget should have no more place as a sacred cow as should entitlement programs.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

re:Fitz
Looked at the Reuter's article, "Special Report: The Pentagon's doctored ledgers conceal epic waste."
Thanks.

From the article:
"In May this year, Ralph Mariano, who worked as a civilian Navy employee for 38 years, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rhode Island to charges of conspiracy and theft of government funds related to a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million from 1996 to 2011. Mariano was sentenced November 1 to 10 years in prison and fined $18 million.

Mariano admitted that as an engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, he added money to contracts held by Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow. The Georgia-based company then paid kickbacks to Mariano and others, including friends and relatives."

CLM
Draper, UT

No question that overwhelming economic sabotage is done by entitlement programs (including corporate welfare) as much, if not more, than defense spending. And we're likely stuck with huge military and social program budgets until they bankrupt our country--whatever's good for politicians and crony capitalists isn't easily curtailed.

However, even if every single dollar continues to be budgeted to these burgeoning departments, at the *very least* those huge dollars could be accounted for properly. That these unimaginable sums are going unaccounted for and virtually audit-proof is beyond appalling. Pie in the sky to think it might change? Maybe...but it's our money!

And while Medicare and other social programs are rife with fraud and questionable accounting, there is indication to believe there is far more in the way of poor accounting, waste, and superfluous spending in the military. And we have no idea exactly how much is being spent (and wasted)in the Pentagon, due to "black budget" allocations. The military budget should have no more place as a sacred cow than entitlement programs.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "Congress has passed laws mandating that . . . federal agencies, comply with GAAP and provide auditable financial statements. Someday, that may really happen."

Don't hold your breath.

What Congress gives with one hand, it takes away with the other.

Congress has no real interest in auditable statements. It would make them look too bad.

Pagan
Salt Lake City, UT

Bush doubled the debt.

Reagan tripled the debt.

$4 trillion spent on Iraq.

Zero troops in Syria under Obama.

If you are against military over spending, you should vote Democrat.

The Hammer
lehi, utah

The accounting problems are systemic. Government doesn't have to abide by the same accounting laws they make for corporations. The GAO has confirmed this. To keep the same budget every year these agencies will do anything and buy anything they need to keep it. The amount can be a drop in the bucket for each asset but our military has been bloated with old cold war relic bases and expenditures which add up to a lot. Nobody in the pentagon has had to account for much until now and they are being exposed. When I served Officers would lose track of expensive equipment and to get out of paying for it they would use inventory tricks to get out of the boondoggle. Supply officers and sergeants were notorious for spending beyond their limits.

In my opinion this is going to be one of the biggest stories going forward because this rabbit hole is deep and there has been a lot of money not accounted for since the end of the Korean war and its become a culture to not be accountable for those funds.

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