In a reprehensible example of how the government wastes taxpayer money, the Pentagon has blown several billion dollars on faulty software that was supposed to help cut costs by updating antiquated financial ledgers that create serious management weaknesses.
Instead nearly $2.7 billion have essentially gone down the drain for a program that doesn’t work. The goal is to modernize the Department of Defense’s (DOD) financial ledgers, which are currently hand written and primitive, in order to meet an upcoming deadline requiring the production of financial statements that are actually auditable. This would be a first for the DOD, one of the world’s largest and most complex organizations with an annual budget of $671 billion.
But the fancy software, years in the making, is so defective that it can’t generate auditable financial reports and even produces inaccurate data. As a result, “manual workarounds” are necessary, according to a federal audit released a few days ago. The issues were first discovered when the Army and Air Force tested the new system and found problems in a variety of areas, including data quality and conversions and system interfaces.
Furthermore, the Army found that two-thirds its financial data still needs to be entered manually into the software, according to the audit, which was conducted by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Air Force found that “substantial manual intervention is required on a daily basis” and that reports produced by the new system were “inaccurate or incomplete.”
This is hardly a new revelation. The GAO has previously reported that the DOD failed to effectively implement “acquisition management controls” to ensure that the new system has the promised capabilities. Like a typical government agency, the Pentagon is moving at a snail’s pace while the tab—picked up by taxpayers, of course—swells.
Investigators point out that; “while we were told that the Army and the Air Force have corrective actions underway to address identified deficiencies, specific time lines have not been developed for purposes of tracking and monitoring progress.” It doesn’t seem like anyone is in a big hurry.
In a mind-boggling example of government corruption, billions of dollars flown to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction” have vanished and may never be recovered.Bundled in chunks of $100 bills, the cash was sent from the U.S. to Iraq in turboprop military cargo planes known as C-130 Hercules. About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq by 2004.For years federal audits have determined that more than half the money cannot be accounted for but there seemed to be some hope that some of the funds could be retrieved. However, this week the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Stuart Bowen) essentially confirmed that $6.6 billion in cash was likely stolen and may never be recovered.Bowen referred to it as “the largest theft of funds in national history,” in a newspaper report that points out the missing money is enough to run a major public school district for an entire year. The story also says that the mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, which has long asserted that it could track the cash if given the time to do it.This is simply the latest of many reports documenting the pervasive fraud and waste inIraq reconstruction efforts, which have received more than $100 billion from U.S. taxpayers. In the last few years Inspector General audits have exposed the sordid details of costly projects that never got completed or are rife with excessive delays and shoddy work.