How Many More Trillion$ for Defense?

Wednesday October 27th, 2010   •   Posted by Joshua Kaplan at 7:28pm PDT   •  

In the new article on runaway spending from the Pentagon, “How Many More Trillion$ for Defense?”, Independent Institute Research Fellow Winslow Wheeler explains the dire need for effective budgetary controls over the Pentagon.� As it stands the Pentagon “is literally ‘unauditable.'”

�Since Sept. 11, 2001, Congress and the Defense Department have added more than $2 trillion to the Pentagon budget. About half of that increase covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . Against all logic, the extra money made our military forces mostly smaller and older.

�It has likely been the most relentless squandering of resources the federal government has perpetrated since the end of World War II.

�Right now, the Pentagon does not know how it spends its money, as the Government Accountability Office has reported for decades. It is literally ‘unauditable.’

�Routinely, DOD does not know if it has paid contractors once, twice or not at all. We recently learned it does not even know how many contractors it has, whom they employ and what they are doing. Google ‘audit’ and ‘Pentagon’ and read the horror stories.

�It is clear that if you ask what a weapon program has cost, or might cost in future, the DOD system seems likely to provide you any dollar amount it wants you to hear.

�The F-35 ‘Joint Strike Fighter’ is a classic case; for the last two years, the acquisition bureaucracy had to re-cook the cost numbers�upward, of course�to chase new revelations, and we are about to get yet another update, which will only be another way station on the cost escalator. Ask for an audit of those or any other numbers, and listen to the excuses.

�The only jolt that could shock this broken system into reform is less money. That is the approach taken by a member of President Barack Obama�s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has written each commission member recommending that the DOD budget be frozen until it can pass comprehensive audits of all programs, agencies and contractors.

�You can�t reform spending if you don�t know what you spend.

�Those making today�s defense budget decisions are locked in a mindset where more empty spending is never enough. That, more than anything, needs to change. . . .”

For the full article, please click here.

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October 2010