The Pentagon just failed its audit — again. For the sixth time in a row, the agency that accounts for half the money Congress approves each year can’t figure out what it did with all that money. For a brief recap, the Pentagon has never passed an audit. Until 2018, it had never even completed one. Since then, the Pentagon has done an audit every year and given itself a participation prize each time. Yet despite this year’s triumphant press release — titled “DOD Makes Incremental Progress Towards Clean Audit” — it has failed every time. In its most recent audit, the Pentagon was able to account for just half of its $3.8 trillion in assets (including equipment, facilities, etc).
During a recent discussion with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, touted her organization’s push to guarantee transparency for US taxpayer funds sent to Ukraine. “We are involved in funding efforts at ensuring judicial integrity, which is intrinsically important to building Ukraine’s democracy and its integration plans to get into Europe,” Power declared, adding USAID’s work in Ukraine was “also really important in terms of assuring the taxpayer, the American taxpayer, that they’re resources are well spent.”
Last week, the Department of Defense revealed that it had failed its fifth consecutive audit. “I would not say that we flunked,” said DoD Comptroller Mike McCord, although his office did note that the Pentagon only managed to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. “The process is important for us to do, and it is making us get better. It is not making us get better as fast as we want.” The news came as no surprise to Pentagon watchers. After all, the U.S. military has the distinction of being the only U.S. government agency to have never passed a comprehensive audit. But what did raise some eyebrows was the fact that DoD made almost no progress in this year’s bookkeeping: Of the 27 areas investigated, only seven earned a clean bill of financial health, which McCord described as “basically the same picture as last year.”
That’s what should have been the biggest news of 2021. Instead, the story, which broke on November 17, was largely ignored or buried. The nation’s two main newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times, have simply ignored it. Other news organizations stenographically quoted Pentagon officials as admitting that they “failed again” but saw “progress,” and as promising that they would achieve a “clean” audit by… get this … 2027. The Pentagon, with some $3 trillion (give or take a trillion but who’s counting?) in assets and a record current 2021 budget of $738 billion, has for the third year in a row failed its audit. An army of 1400 auditors hired by us taxpayers for $230 million and borrowed from some of the biggest auditing firms in the country, spent the past year poring through the books and visiting hundreds of operations of the government’s largest and geographically vastest single agency, and came back with word that they couldn’t give it a pass.
By Jacob Hoffman-Andrews for EFF - Election security experts concerned about voting machines are calling for an audit of ballots in the three states where the presidential election was very close: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We agree. This is an important election safety measure and should happen in all elections, not just those that have a razor-thin margin. Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 333-92 to audit the Federal Reserve, the nation’s private, central bank. The Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act, bolstered by bipartisan backing, could demand more disclosures from the secretive Federal Reserve if passed in the Senate. The bill was introduced by Republican representative Paul Broun of Georgia and is a newer incarnation of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 Federal Reserve Transparency Act. At that time, it passed in the House with a 327-98 vote but stalled in the Senate due to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s resistance. Though Reid supported an audit in the 1990s, by 2012 his position shifted.