Pentagon Fails Its Sixth Audit

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The Pentagon has failed its audit, again. For the sixth time in a row. The agency that accounts for half of the federal discretionary budget does not know what it did with the money.

For a brief recap, the Pentagon has never passed an audit. Until 2018, it had never even completed an audit. Since then, the Pentagon has completed an audit every year (and given itself a participation prize each time, this year with a press release titled “DOD Makes Incremental Progress Towards Clean Audit”). It has failed every time.

No other federal agency could get away with this. There would be congressional hearings. There would be demands to remove agency leaders, or to defund those agencies. Every other major federal agency has passed an audit, proving that it knows where taxpayer dollars it is entrusted with are going (the last agency to pass an audit previously was the Department of Homeland Security, which passed its first audit in 2013).

Congress is poised to give a budget upward of $840 billion to the agency despite its failures:

  • Since the Pentagon’s first failed audit in 2018, Congress has approved and the president has signed into law $3.9 trillion in Pentagon spending* - knowing that those funds may never be accounted for.

  • In its most recent audit, the Pentagon was able to account for just 50 percent of its $3.8 trillion in assets (including equipment, facilities, etc). That means $1.9 trillion is unaccounted for - more than the entire federal discretionary budget. 

  • Each year, half of the Pentagon budget goes to corporate weapons contractors and other corporations who profiteer from this lack of accountability.

Even while the Pentagon failed audit after audit, tens of billions of dollars have gone through the Pentagon to fund wars in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and now Israel. Accountability for those “assets” - including weapons and equipment - is also in question.

There is an entity whose job it is to prevent this sort of abuse: Congress. With each failure at the Pentagon, Congress is failing, too. Every year that members of Congress vote for budget boosts to this agency with no strings attached, they choose to spend untold billions on war with no accountability. 


* Federal discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense for FY19-FY23 according to NPP calculations and the Office of Management and Budget.