The Defense Department is starting the first agency wide financial audit in its history, Pentagon officials announced today, sparking fears of a “new 9/11” – because the last time the Pentagon was missing trillions of dollars and about to face extreme financial scrutiny, 9/11 happened.
Donald Rumsfeld was due to testify about a missing $2.3 trillion before Congress on September 13 2001, however the case was put on hold after the events of September 11.
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The paper trail was destroyed when one side of the Pentagon was blown up, and the $2.3 trillion dollar case was brushed under the rubble.
Fast forward to 2017 and the Pentagon is even less accountable. The Pentagon now cannot account for $6.5 trillion according to a Department of Defense Inspector General’s report – raising alarm bells not just because of the obvious lack of accountability and oversight, but because when trillions go missing, they tend to go missing with a bang.
The new case of the missing trillions, and the combustible political climate in the U.S. in 2017, has left many commentators fearing that “something big is about to happen again.”
Defense Department Comptroller David L. Norquist and chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White spoke during the Pentagon news conference on 7 December, in which they said they had received the DoD Office of Inspector General’s notification that the financial statement audit begins this month.
According to defense.gov:
“The audit is massive. It will examine every aspect of the department from personnel to real property to weapons to supplies to bases. Some 2,400 auditors will fan out across the department to conduct it, Pentagon officials said.
“It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DoD’s management of every taxpayer dollar,” Norquist said.
Audits are necessary to ensure the accuracy of financial information. They also account for property. Officials estimate the department has around $2.4 trillion in assets. “With consistent feedback from auditors, we can focus on improving the processes of our day-to-day work,” the comptroller said. “Annual audits also ensure visibility over the quantity and quality of the equipment and supplies our troops use.”
The DoD Office of the Inspector General hired independent public accounting firms to conduct audits of individual components – the Army, Navy, Air Force, agencies, activities and more – as well as a departmentwide consolidated audit to summarize all results and conclusions.
“Beginning in 2018, our audits will occur annually, with reports issued Nov. 15,” Norquist said.