Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author's opinion.

The Pentagon has failed the past five audits but using typical government logic, it now demands to have its budget increased. The Department of Defense Comptroller Michael McCord requested that Congress should fork over “$26 billion, or 3.2 percent more than what Congress enacted last year.” He further said that the request is “closer to nine percent more than what we requested last year, and it’s basically $100 billion higher than what we had just two years ago.” McCord commented that a trillion-dollar budget for the Pentagon is possible before the year’s end.

As things currently stand, President Biden’s $9.6 trillion budget proposal for 2024 seeks to give the Pentagon an $842 billion budget and spend an additional $44 billion on defense-related projects in other agencies, according to Just The News.

As previously cited, the Pentagon has never managed to pass a single full audit. The latest audit in November 2022 shockingly revealed that the Pentagon was only able to account for 39 percent of its total assets. This news was marked by the Pentagon as progress and as a cause for cautious optimism. Michael McCord said at the time that “[w]e failed to get an ‘A’. 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.” He would further say “I would not say that we flunked.”

After all the talk of progress, Mr. McCord would also contradict himself and confusingly say about the fifth failed attempt, “[t]his is basically the same picture of last year.” These audits are the result of a law that Congress called the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 which mandates regular audits of governmental agencies. The law was meant to cut governmental waste. The Department of Defense is the only agency that has never managed to pass a single audit.


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As Just The News rightly admits “Despite the failed audits, Congress continues to raise defense spending. For fiscal year 2023, Congress approved nearly $45 billion more than Biden had requested for defense spending.” There was, however, a push by some in Congress to hold the Pentagon accountable for failed audits.

The introduction of the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021 by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Grassley (R-IO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Mike Lee (R-UT) was meant to address this. The bill called for any component of the Pentagon that failed to pass an audit to forfeit one percent of its budget to the Treasury and for that money to be put aside to pay for the federal deficit.

At the time there were comments by senators and aids to senators about the need for the Pentagon to change its ways. As Senator Grassley put it in 2021, “We’ve seen example after example of excessive and inefficient spending by the Pentagon, and every dollar squandered is a dollar not being used to support our men and women in uniform. After 30 years to get ready, this bill pushes the Defense Department to finally achieve a clean annual audit – a requirement that every other federal agency is held to.”

The proposed law has been read twice and referred to the Committee of the Armed Services where it has languished.

Two things are true here. The United States needs to have strong armed forces that are prepared to defend the homeland and fight for vital American interests. However, the granting of bloated budgets to a department that cannot account for its assets every time an audit is due makes little sense. Fiscal conservatism alone would demand prudent and transparent accounting for any money the government spends.