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Military waste under fire - $1 trillion missing(32 posts)

Military waste under fire - $1 trillion missingLive Steam
May 20, 2003 9:05 AM
This is what I am talking about. And yes, look at the source - a "liberal" rag ;0) Also look at who is accused of the egregious impropriety the DOD a bastion of conservatism :O)

I want stuff like this to stop, but I also want the practices that filtersweep enumerated to stop. Do you know the government has no idea how much it takes to run itself and provide for basic services to the population. They just collect taxes and then divvy it up like loot from a heist. Some areas get more than they need and some get less. Not very efficient if you ask me. It also provides no reason to collect less in tax, because they really don't understand what is being used and how efficiently it is being spent. It's a big job admittedly, but that's their job, isn't it?
Stop electing corporate screw-ups with ties to white-collar. . .czardonic
May 20, 2003 10:42 AM
. . .criminals. You sow, you reap.
no one else wants to run! nmmohair_chair
May 20, 2003 12:04 PM
What year was being audited?DJB
May 21, 2003 10:53 AM
You're quick to blame Bush for the actions of the DOD, but the linked article doesn't mention what year was being audited. But the truth is that this isn't anything new. Unacceptable, but not new, nor does it depend on the party occupying the White House.

"According to the General Accounting Office (GAO) 2001 "High Risk" Series report the Department of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items they purchased. The same reported stated, the Navy wrote off as "lost" over $3 billion dollars worth of in-transit inventory.

Kucinich's amendment, adopted today in the House, addresses a long-standing problem at the Department of Defense. In March 2000, the Pentagon's Inspector General found that of $7.6 trillion in accounting entries, $2.3 trillion were 'not supported by adequate audit trails or sufficient evidence to determine their validity'. "

March 2000?

"Reality #2: The Defense Department is either unable or unwilling to deal seriously with its decades-long engagement in massive waste, fraud, and mismanagement, especially (but not exclusively) in its relations with the big defense contracting companies.

The Defense Department will not even obey the laws with regard to its own accounting practices. According to a report by the department's own inspector general, dated Feb. 15, 2001:

We identified $1.1 trillion in department-level accounting entries to financial data used to prepare DoD component financial statements that were not supported by adequate audit trails or by sufficient evidence to determine their validity. In addition, we also identified $107 billion in department-level accounting entries to financial data used to prepare DoD component financial statements that were improper because the entries were illogical or did not follow accounting principles. . . . [Further] DoD did not fully comply with the laws and regulations that had a direct and material effect on its ability to determine financial statement amounts."

If the audit report comes out a few weeks after Bush comes into office, who was president during the year being audited?

Nor is the DOD the only agency that can't balance it's books:

"Department of Agriculture: "Because its financial management is so deficient, the department can't ensure that its financial statements are reliable and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. For fiscal 2000 — the seventh straight year — the Agriculture Department failed its annual financial audit.""

"Department of Education: "With the exception of fiscal year 1997, the Department of Education has not received an unqualified or 'clean' opinion on its financial statements since its first agencywide audit. That means it can't even balance its books once a year. Needless to say, it can't manage its money on a day-to-day basis.""

"Department of the Treasury: "GAO has reported that the federal government is not able to properly and consistently compile financial statements, identify and eliminate intragovernmental transactions or reconcile the results of operations in the financial statements with the budget results.""
Oh I wasn't blaming this administration, just ask ...Live Steam
May 21, 2003 11:02 AM
CZARDONIC :O) I am sure this is nothing new and goes back through many administrations. I would suspect that there are some nation defense issues that lead to a discrepancy in the numbers. The DOD probably doesn't want specific numbers published about what exactly they are purchasing and from whom. I do however feel that that government wastes a lot of money. I am sure that the DOA and other agencies have no idea where all their money is being spent.
I was replying to Czardonic...DJB
May 21, 2003 11:09 AM
"Stop electing corporate screw-ups with ties to white-collar criminals. You sow, you reap"

I agree about what you said though. Especially the last sentence!
Bush is just the most recent example of poor leadership. . .czardonic
May 21, 2003 12:00 PM
. . .and unwillingness to take on the gross budgetary mismanagement of the DOD etc.

His answer to everything is that its not his fault and that the system was broken by Clinton. If it is true that Clinton wasn't handed a broken system by Bush's own father, then fine. But whoever broke the system, it is now Bush's job to fix it. To the extent that he was elected by the American people, he was elected to lead this country, not make excuses.

Or was he? I guess you could make the claim that nobody in their right mind would elect a dismal failure of a businessman like Bush to improve the management of the government.
Bush is blaming Clinton?DJB
May 21, 2003 12:39 PM
I'd like to see an example of Bush blaming Clinton for this. It's one thing to say "it was already broken", but a totally different thing to say "Clinton broke it". I don't think Clinton broke it, I think it's been this way for a long, long time. That's why I said that it doesn't matter which party was in the White House.

But to say that Bush exhibits "unwillingness to take on the gross budgetary mismanagement of the DOD etc." isn't true either.

From the Insightmag article I linked to above:

"Financial fudging in the Cabinet departments long has been a sore point for the inspectors general (IGs) and the General Accounting Office (GAO), charged with keeping an eye on waste and abuse. Now President George W. Bush has entered the fray. He is well aware that to win a war — whether it be a war on drugs, crime, hunger or terrorism — every resource is precious. He made that clear in his 2002 Management Agenda, where he said: "Without accountability, how can we ever expect results? Under my administration, we will bring this cycle of failure to an abrupt end. As president, I will hold affected agencies accountable for passing their audits not later than 2002. I will say to those in place, 'Get your audits right.'""

Was he sincere? I think so. Will anything really change? Only time will tell. The undertaking to get things straighted out must simply be massive.
I haven't heard him take any responsibility for the economy.czardonic
May 21, 2003 12:46 PM
All I hear from his mouthpieces and apologists is that he "inherited" a broken economy from Clinton. Fine. But what has he done to fix it? Nothing. Is he suggesting any approach to fixing it that hasn't already failed at least once (i.e. tax cuts)? No.

2002 has come and gone. Has the "cycle of failure" been brought to an "abrupt end"? His sincerity notwithstanding, what about his results?

He also blamed Clinton for the Palestinian Intifada.
I haven't heard him take any responsibility for the economy.TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 12:51 PM
No, he hasn't taken responsibilty for the economy. Nor should he. It's not really in the scope of his power - but it will be blamed on him anyway.

When did tax cuts fail so miserably?

I wouldn't blame Clinton for the Intifada - but if you're going to blame Bush for the economy, it seems reasonable to blame Clinton for the failure of middle east peace.
It's a cop-out to claim that the economy isn't Bush's problem.czardonic
May 21, 2003 1:10 PM
If it's not Bush's problem to fix, then it was never Clinton's to break. Anyway, Bush has made it his responsibilty by advertising his plans to fix it by using tax cuts to create jobs and stimulate growth. We tried that with a $1.3 trillion tax cut in 2001, and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost since. I call that a pretty miserable failure.

Clinton tried to fix the Palestinian problem. Bush back-burnered it and it subsequently went even further south. Since the latest spate of violence happened on Bush's watch, the original logic of the thread (which wasn't mine) holds that Bush is at fault.
It's a cop-out to claim that the economy isn't Bush's problem.TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 1:53 PM
The $1.3 trillion tax cut hasn't even taken full effect yet. Economic policy is like driving a really big boat - you don't know the real results until many years later. It is far too early to judge its success or failure. Anybody who thought that an announcement that taxes would be cut would lead to an immediate good economy is hopelessly optimistic.

Clinton's "fix" of the Palestinian problem led DIRECTLY to the current intifada - which started after Clinton-led negotiations failed. The latest spate of violence started before Bush was elected, and has continued through his tenure, though he has taken real steps to stop it. My own opinion is that we should stop writing foreign aid checks to Israel until they unconditionally accept the roadmap.
Hoplessly optimistic? Or hoplessly duped by the President?czardonic
May 21, 2003 2:10 PM
Bush is advertising his tinkering as immediate fixes, not long term "cross your fingers and hope for the best" fixes. So again, whether or not Bush can be expected to do anything about the economoy, he is claiming that he can and will do something now, and must be judged by the standards he sets for himself.

Bush has taken "real" steps to stop the Intifada to the same extent as Sharon is a "man of peace". I agree on your "fix", but doubt that Bush has the wisdom or the stones his father had.
I'm not going to argue this with you...TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 2:26 PM
If your intense dislike of the President prevents you from rationally viewing policy, there's really no basis for discussion. Some things can't be fixed instantly. I've never heard the President say that he expected the economy to turn right around - but you and I clearly hear different things.
Then don't. Here it is straight from the horse's mouth. . .czardonic
May 21, 2003 2:49 PM

So when does the "immediate boost to the economy" start? Or am I just "hearing things", and if so, what are you hearing?
You're just selectively quoting,TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 2:58 PM
Read the whole quote: "and provides long-term stimulus to create more jobs across our country."

There is no question that any tax bill will have some short term and some long term effect. The long term effects, particularly when we're talking about investment, will be significantly larger than any short term effect. Furthermore, you were earlier referencing the 2001 tax cut, and these quotes are from 2002 and 2003 - more than a year after that cut. I think the real difference is what we view as "immediate" and "short run". Remember, Keynes said that "in the long run, we are all dead." I would consider an "immediate" economic impact one that occurs within a 2 year time frame, and a "short run" effect a 5 year time frame. Presidential criticizers looked at their watches, and said: "It's been ten minutes, where are our jobs?" and that's not fair. Furthermore, we have no knowledge about what the economy might look like without the tax packages - we could be in the midst of the Great Depression II - we really can't evaluate the effects, yet.

But I'm just an economist, what do I know?
Yes. I am "selecting" the parts that disprove your assertion.czardonic
May 21, 2003 3:35 PM
You are "selecting" the parts that don't. But these are still two clauses of the same sentence. Whatever he said about the long term, he still mentioned the short term.

I no better than to argue economics with you. But economics are not the issue. The issue is whether or not Bush is advertising his policies as recipies for "immediate" economic stimulus, and he clearly is. As an economist, you have some fairly novel definitions of "immediate" and "short run". Bush is not an economist, and he is not delivering these claims to economists. He is just a plain-spoken guy from Texas who would never dissemble over an issue like creating jobs and relieving the economic woes of working people. Right?
I think my point is as clear as it will be, I'm done (nm)TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 4:30 PM
Yes. You won't admit that Bush made misleading statements. . .czardonic
May 21, 2003 4:35 PM
. . .under any circumstances, in the face of any evidence.
Sure, they were misleading, whatever...TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 4:43 PM
Next time he should explictly say exactly what day his jobs will be created and how many. Then at least we could be sure he was lying.

In another note, Czardonic, as much as I love you, this will be the last response I make to you. You turn everything into a schoolyard am/not are/too argument, and it just isn't that interesting.
I'm no fan of the am/not are/too argument either.czardonic
May 21, 2003 4:56 PM
I thought that providing an actual example of a quote that wouldn't pass your economic BS test would preclude the excercise. But, it really seems like you've a greater appetite for strained tit for tat that you give yourself credit for.
First of all. . .DJB
May 21, 2003 5:24 PM
(Now that the carnage of my son's pony (7-8 yr. old) baseball game is over...)

This thread was about the DOD (and other government agencies) and the lack of 'auditability'. That's what has been broken for a long time, not the economy. You changed the subject about half-way through.

Secondly, TJeanloz is right. Most (or a large part) of Bush's original tax plan has yet to take effect. Any type of economic adjustment such as a tax cut, tax hike or interest rate change is only one variable in a big picture. The results can't be guaranteed.

Another thing is that you seem to be judging the results of the tax cuts in a vacuum. Nowhere do I hear any consideration of how the tax cuts helped or failed the economy in light of 9/11. It would seem to me that 9/11 and it's effect on tourism, travel etc. had a much larger impact on the economy. Or the accounting scandals, which should have been a positive influence on the 'Clinton economy' with false profits and company valuations (which affects stock prices). Or the stock market bubble in general. How much of the 'Clinton economy' was based on speculation rather than fundamentals? Any economists out there, please feel free to correct me on those last two points.

Even if you could make the case that the tax cuts were ineffective (I say things would have been even worse without them), that's a far cry from Bush intentionally misleading us.
Your still arguing economics when the issue is credibility.czardonic
May 21, 2003 5:42 PM
Bush's official responsibility for our economic conditions, the reasonably expected efficacy of the tax cuts, 9/11 and the "Clinton Economy" are immaterial.

What is at issue is how Bush is representing his ability to stimulate the economy immediately and create jobs, both by cutting taxes. The burden of proof is on him to back up his statements with the advertised results, not on me to overlook his exagertions based on their obviousness.
You're putting words in his mouth.DJB
May 21, 2003 6:03 PM
Re-read the articles that you linked to.

The first one was a bill signed in 2002. The only 'short-term' item was an extension of unemployment benefits. That certainly isn't about creating jobs. The rest was stated to be long-term stimulus.

The second article refers to the current tax bill that is just coming out of Congress. It hasn't even been signed into law yet.
They are direct quotes.czardonic
May 22, 2003 10:12 AM
And again, according to what you and TJ are telling me, his assertions about the proposed legistlation can't be true.
Can't be true?DJB
May 22, 2003 12:45 PM
I'd love to hear how you got that impression from anything I've written.

"We tried that with a $1.3 trillion tax cut in 2001, and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost since. I call that a pretty miserable failure"

You claim that the 2001 tax cuts resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, or at least the tax cut didn't create the jobs as promised, which is where I pointed out that you were acting as if 9/11 had never happened and that the tax cuts have yet to be fully implemented. BTW, if you want to criticize the tax cuts for being so heavily back-end loaded, I'm with you there...

"So when does the "immediate boost to the economy" start? Or am I just "hearing things", and if so, what are you hearing?"

You also are using Bush's statements about an upcoming tax bill (I'm ignoring the first article because there are no short-term promises in it) to claim that he made misleading statements about the 2001 tax bill.

If you want to say that you're going to hold Bush to his statements about the effectiveness of the upcoming bill, that's fine. But you can't (fairly) link the two together and say that Bush was misleading us.
It has been argued that no economic policy yeilds immediate. . .czardonic
May 22, 2003 1:49 PM
. . .results, that an economy is like steering an oceanliner, etc. If that is true, then Bush is being disingenuous.

In essesence, I am saying that Bush's assertions about the immediate results that can be expected of his policies are either dishonest in their intentional overstatements, or reflect an ignorance on the topic. (I'd be willing to split the difference).
What are the immediate results that he's promising?DJB
May 23, 2003 10:33 AM
I do generally agree with the oceanliner analogy (although I prefer one about 'trying to herd cats').

I do think it's only fair to hold a politician to their claims, but I also think it's equally fair to be accurate about what their claims are.

Here's the quote that you supplied:

"This growth and jobs package is essential in the short run. It's an
immediate boost to the economy. And these proposals will help stimulate
investment and put more people back to work, is what we want to have

Are there any things in the package (actually this is a moot point since Bush didn't get all he wanted in the package that came out of Congress) that would qualify as "an immediate boost"? The acceleration of lowered tax brackets from 2004 and 2006 to 2003, expansion of the child tax credit and marraige penalty elimination were all to be retroactive to 1/1/2003. I would call that immediate, and as it would give millions of people more spending money, a boost to the economy.

In the last sentence (although linguistically tortured), will the dividend rate and capital gain reductions stimulate investment and put more people back to work? Seems reasonable. And I'm not even sure from that quote if he's specifing that (investment and jobs) as an immediate benefit.
So, you disagree. I can live with that. (nm)czardonic
May 23, 2003 10:55 AM
Agreed (nm).DJB
May 23, 2003 11:39 AM
what we need are laws.rufus
May 21, 2003 3:59 PM
much like how the SEC governs the markets(and unfortunately not to well), we need legislation to prevent this stuff from happening. departments that can't account for money get that amount slashed from their future budgets. if they can't pass an audit, they get penalized by not recieving the funding they otherwise should.

i don't know how you would work it out, because it's not like you can't fund the military budget for a year or two, but there have to be consequences for departments, and those in charge of them when they screw up. people need to lose jobs, and money, when the departmenmts they are responsible for get so fouled up.
We have the laws. They are what's causing the problem.sn69
May 22, 2003 7:09 AM
The root of the issue isn't individual component accountability. That is purely an issue of the personnel directly responsible for the accountancy. Nor do those parts disappear or account for much of that trememdous discrepancy.

The issue is that of the aquisition model that DOD is forced to use based on legislative constraints written into the law by Congress. I wrote some things about this above. The program is called PPBS, and it's a McNamara construct that is still in place, written into law and enforced. It essentially allows for a simple item like a hammer to be sent to bid with a lengthy developmental, test and evaluation period ahead of it's procurement and implementation. After that, the system also mandates a follow-up, contractor-supported support network be built. Contractors, by their nature, need to turn a profit. Thus, by the time the entire process completes its cycle, the $15 hammer has become a $700 hammer, and the milspec evelope has been thoroughly investigated to ensure that the hammer won't break at 7gs, that it can take "X" amount of blows before the bevelled edge dulls, that there's a contractor-supported system of refurbishment in place to rebevel the edge, etc.....

If it was left up to us, we'd open-purchase the friggin hammer from Lowe's. But it's not up to us.

On the other hand, PPBS also provides a certain amount of checks and balances to ensure that a contractor can't necessarily bribe a uniformed member to affect the member's selction of the contractor's product. With PPBS and the other legislative constructs, the uniformed members are removed from the process and the Armed Services, Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees make the choices.

It's a divergent sign wave. The process is staggering and profoundly inefficient.

But it's the law.