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The Pentagon Must Be Audited

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeFAZIO. Well, we've all heard of too big to fail when the Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and President Bush bailed out a bunch of miscreants on Wall Street for their gambling and mistakes and putting taxpayers at risk, some principle that does not belong in the policy of this country. But now we have another one: Too big to be counted. Too big to be counted.

This year, the Pentagon will spend $670 billion, about $2 million a day, and it doesn't know where its money is. In fact, it often doesn't even know if it has spent money. Here are a few examples:

In March 2000, the Pentagon inspector general found that of the $7.6 trillion--``t,'' trillion dollars--in accounting entries, about one-third of them--$2.3 trillion, or $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in America, was completely untraceable, completely untraceable. $2.3 trillion, don't know where it went. Don't know if they bought something, if it was delivered. Who knows.

Then, in 2003, they found--and this is something I've talked about all through my years in Congress, the so-called inventory system at the Pentagon, which is absolutely absurd. The Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 missile command launch units. And while military leaders back in 2003 were scrambling around trying to find chemical and biological suits for our troops because of the risks in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, the Pentagon was selling suits at surplus on the Internet for 2 cents on the dollar. No suits for the troops. They're very expensive. Over here, we're selling them for 2 cents on the dollar to the general public. What is this all about?

Another year, they spent $100 million for refundable airline tickets that they didn't use. Hey, what's $100 million at the Pentagon? Chump change. They didn't ask for the refunds. They just stuck them in a drawer. That is $100 million that didn't go to serve our national defense, supply our troops, or be saved and defray our deficit.

In fiscal year '10, half of the Pentagon's $366 billion in contract awards were not competed. Half.

Now, these are pretty shocking numbers. And actually, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett) and I on the floor here last spring got a little amendment in the Department of Defense bill to require that they conform to a 1994 law. In 1994, Congress said the Pentagon should be audited by 1997. Unfortunately, every year, the appropriators have said, Oh, no, no, no. That's too much to ask of the Pentagon.

Well, we got a little amendment in the bill here. We kind of snuck it by the DOD hawks over there who are protecting the incompetence over there, and they would have been audited. The Senate did the same thing. But to the rescue, the conference committee, behind closed doors. I was one of very few on the floor here who voted against closing the doors of the conference because they don't close the doors of the conference committee over there to talk about classified things that could risk our national security. They do it to cut deals like this.

So yesterday, they decided the Pentagon will not be audited. It can't be audited. In fact, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Conaway), one of our colleagues, said it would be insulting to require that we audit the Pentagon in a mandatory way by 2014. I mean, that's only 2 years from now. That's only a couple more trillion dollars from now. Boy, we wouldn't want to know where that money is going. We wouldn't want to know whether they are surplusing out stuff our troops need while they're paying for a contractor who didn't have to compete to buy the same stuff, and they say there is a shortage and we don't have enough. We wouldn't want to know these things. So we closed the conference and cut these stinking deals.

So here it is, once again, too big to be counted. This does not serve our men and women in uniform well. It does not serve the national defense needs of the United States of America, and it sure as heck doesn't serve the interests of the American taxpayers. The Pentagon must be audited like every other agency of Federal Government, and we should also throw in the Federal Reserve.

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