Pentagon Auditor: I Can’t Do All This Auditing!
Auditing the Pentagon often turns up billions in weapons waste and scandalously overpaid private contractors. But the latest Pentagon inspector general report takes a slightly different tack- there’s too much to audit.
The report, which was obtained by the Project on Government Oversight yesterday and will be sent Congress, says that under the Bush administration defense spending has doubled to $600 billion from $300 billion. At the same time, the number of Pentagon auditors, including people in charge of handling whistleblower complaints, has slightly declined.
The number of Pentagon personnel who oversee military contracts has basically stayed the same since 1997. That year one auditor monitored $642 million in private contracts. An auditor today must keep tracking of $2 billion. Not surprisingly, they can’t do all that monitoring. On weapons contracts last year, only half of the $316 billion received “sufficient audit coverage.”
Congress has called for more auditors in the latest defense authorization bill. But it’s hard to know how much more oversight is needed when investigations can’t even be conducted. At other departments, Inspectors General release reports showing waste, fraud and abuse. But only at the Pentagon can there be so much spending that there’s not enough money to police it.