Reuters: Pentagon Bookkeepers Wasted $8.5 Trillion

By: Bennett Rieser - November 19, 2013

Earlier this summer, Reuters authors Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr conducted an investigation into the Pentagon’s payroll practices; in their report, the authors alleged that an unbelievable level of dysfunction is causing financial hardships for soldiers. Today, the news does not get any better as Reuters published a second expose, this one even meatier than the first.

The second part of the Reuters investigation, written by Scot J. Paltrow, claims that every month, soldiers working for the Defense Finance Accounting Service insert bogus payment numbers into their bookkeeping — in an effort to match the military’s books with the Treasury’s.

The practice is referred to as “plugging,” and one naval officer, Linda Woodford, told Reuters that she spent the last 15 years of her career inserting those fake numbers into the books. “[A] lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate… We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it,” she said.

The supervisors of the DFAS, far from disapproving, were actually expected to approve each plug, sometimes thousands of them in a single month. The Treasury would send the books back if the numbers didn’t match.

Reuters discovered that the practice of plugging is actually standard operating procedure, and that DFAS is hardly the only military accounting firm to be responsible; apparently, Pentagon record keeping is so terrible, that making stuff up to fill in the blanks is just another day at the office.

The Defense Department’s 2012 budget was $565.8 billion (larger than the next 10 largest military spenders combined). As to whether that money actually reached its intended destination, we will never know.

“Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date,” Paltrow writes.

One example of poor supply practices: between 2003 and 2011, the U.S. Army lost $5.8 billion in supplies as it moved equipment between regular units and reserve units.

Because of the Pentagon’s sheer ineptitude, it is the only government agency that refuses to comply with the law requiring an annual financial audit of every government organization. A sum of money greater than China’s economic output from yesteryear, $8.5 trillion, has been given to the Pentagon since 1996. That amounts to over $25,000 per living person in the United States.

The story is far from a cheerful anecdote, but if you’re still interested, check out the full report here.

[Image via YouTube]
Bennett Rieser

About the Author

Bennett RieserBennett is a college-educated contract writer with WebProNews. When not bombarded by fascinating news or political upheaval, he spends his time relaxing with good friends, loyal family, and typically some of the many bastions of free internet discourse.

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  • Well

    America is a nation of fools. It really is. They are brainwashed into just letting the government run all over them. Think about these three simple numbers.

    Before 9/11, the Pentagon had lost 2.3 trillion dollars

    • Martha Nassauer

      I thought the same thing as you, Well. Wonder what’s in store for us after this revelation? As we all know, while the country was focused on Duck Dynasty crap, another NDAA act was signed into law. What I find interesting, and to back up your claim about brainwashing by the government, is that when I post pics of food, my family, etc., on social media…I get tons of comments. The minute I include one of these links that are informative and obviously much more serious…my comments are ignored. What is wrong with us Americans???????

  • Well

    Sorry about that. Anyhow, on to my point:

    2.3 trillion lost by the Pentagon prior to 9/11 (source Donald Rumsfeld himself).
    9.0 trillion lost by the FED (source senate/house hearings on this)
    8.5 trillion lost by Pentagon bookkeepers.

    Ladies and Gentlemen — that is the national debt right there. Literally. That is your money too. When you don’t have a retirement because you can’t afford to retire — think about these numbers.

    Simply put, America you are getting screwed and only the wealthy are benefiting. How in the world do you think Cheney gets paid his hundred of millions in stock options? How do you think these corporations are making record profit?

    We look at people in prison and think they are criminals and terrible people. Really, most people have nothing on people who are running the government. Want to find the most real criminals — and not the guy stealing copper to feed his family — start looking at ALL levels of government.

    • @Well

      I agree. Also, that money is not “wasted”. It is being stolen. The accounting system is kept in bad shape because it is easier to steal. War is big business. War profiteering is huge.

  • Reality

    Here is the reality to this situation:

    A) The money is simply being stolen


    B) The money is going to fund more black operations than we can imagine. If that is the case, then something major is going that we are not being told about. Keep in mind the entire defense budget is somewhere between 550 billion to 750 billion depending on how you slice it. Something major is going on behind the scenes and we simply are not being told.

    People just don’t “lose” trillions in paperwork.

  • Martha Nassauer

    I did add my comment, but it didn’t appear. Us Americans seem to care more about the trivial bs than we do about what really matters. Duck Dynasty controversy superseded the passing of a freedom stealing NDAA act, just signed into law. We have become a nation who CHOOSES to focus on the trivial and mundane, while America goes to hell in a handbasket!