Putting Defense Accounting Problems Into Scientific Context

What’s $62.4 billion among friends (boldface mine)?

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced….

The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’ annual budget – spends the public’s money…

“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” said Franklin Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of Defense Department planning…

The spokesman downplayed the significance of the improper changes, which he said net out to $62.4 billion. “Though there is a high number of adjustments, we believe the financial statement information is more accurate than implied in this report,” he said.

In 2015, the entire NIH budget was around $30 billion. The CDC budget was $6.8 billion. The NSF budget was $7.3 billion.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I really don’t care about deficit spending per se, as the federal government can’t run out of money in any operational sense (and inflation really isn’t a concern at all right now). But politically, we have a balanced budget fetish, which means that every dollar pissed away in one place can’t be spent elsewhere.

Maybe the technocrats celebrating Clinton could get on this in 2017?

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