Pentagon Did Not Keep Records For $45 Billion Worth of Spending In Afghanistan
Another sorry tale from the financial black hole known as the Department of Defense. Though overall Pentagon finances are still inauditable, specific programs are supposed to provide some level of financial documentation to show how US taxpayer funds are being used. But as a recent example from Afghanistan shows, even the meager oversight and accountability that exists within the system has been easily bypassed.
An article from War is Boring details how the Pentagon lost track of $45 billion in spending in Afghanistan due to a technicality in the procurement rules prior to 2010 that did not require tracking money doled out by DoD to contractors making money from the Afghanistan war. Because the Pentagon did not have to track the funds going to contracts in Afghanistan they didn’t.
Now the Pentagon claims going back to investigate who got what, how much, and when would be too costly and time consuming. Obviously they are all about not wasting money.
Whenever the Pentagon needs something done, such as building a new base or constructing a prison, it asks businesses for bids and awards a contract. The Pentagon then writes up the contract and stores it in a computer database called the Federal Procurement Database System. The Defense Department and other agencies pay for these contracts in Afghanistan out of several large pools of money.
The problem is that prior to 2010, regulations didn’t require the Pentagon to identify which pool of money paid for which contract when it came to foreign military sales?—?such as arming and equipping Afghan troops. “Identifying all of the contract data for obligated [security forces] is … hindered by an inability before July 2010 to connect information in contract data systems with accounting information that could connect contracts with the budget account that funded the contract,” the Pentagon wrote to SIGAR in a July 2014 response letter.
Poof, there goes $45 billion – completely untraceable according to DoD. Might the money have gone to projects riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse – who can say? We’ll never know.
Remember this little episode the next time someone claims there is not enough accountability and oversight for spending on the food stamp program.
Photo by David B. Gleason under Creative Commons license