Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Someone's Gotta Know Who Spent That $8.7 Billion...

The Department of Defense is unable to account for $8.7 billion dollars allocated for Iraqi reconstruction.
The Department of the Treasury established guidance for accounting for non-U.S. government funds when U.S. agencies act as a custodian of those funds, but DoD did not implement the guidance in a timely manner. More importantly, most DoD organizations that received DFI funds did not follow the guidance. Only one of these organizations established the required account and, as a result, accounts were not established for $8.7 billion (96%) of the DFI funds made available to DoD.
So, how many of these "DoD organizations" are there? What are the names of the people in charge? Why can't we hold them directly accountable to compel them to "jog their memory" about where some of this cash went?
DoD’s guidance also directed organizations that received DFI funds to reconcile all transactions prior to the time the guidance was issued. However, the reconciliations were not done. Due to the lack of records and personnel knowledgeable about financial and management decisions, we could not determine why the guidance was not followed. Because the accounts were not reconciled, DoD must rely on its organizations’ accounting records to determine the status of DFI funds. Our selective review shows the records were not always complete. For example, DoD could not provide documentation to substantiate how it spent $2.6 billion.
I have spent enough time working for/in conjunction with large, bureaucratic structures to know first-hand how easy it is to cover-up one's mistakes/evidence of breaking protocol. Auditing something as complex as the Department of Defense must be a mind-boggling task, but it should have been standard procedure for everyone to keep track of the spending as it happened.

Regardless of whether the fine men and women of these nameless DoD organizations are 1. lazy and incompetent or 2. horribly corrupt and in bed with recipients of this cash, what does it say about the United States military's ability to conduct and coordinate a war if it can't keep track of its own money? And worse, what does it say about the United States military if it can't even get its own personnel to care about its own resources?

Maybe I'm just naive.

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