Pentagon Can’t Account for Trillions

So wait a minute. Estimates are showing that by the time no-bid contracts have bled the Treasury dry and we’ve given the worst possible care to returning veterans that the Iraq occupation will cost $3 trillion (and let in a few hundred of the millions of displaced Iraqis into the country). But it turns out that is just missing change according to the Pentagon. Gems:

According to federal regulators and current and former Pentagon officials, the accounting process is so obsolete and error prone that it’s virtually impossible to tell where much of this money ends up.

18 years after Congress required major federal agencies to be audited, the Pentagon still can’t be.

For the first three quarters of 2007, $1.1 trillion in Army accounting entries hadn’t been properly reviewed and substantiated, according to the Department of Defense’s inspector general.

They run on old-style I.B.M. mainframes and rely on Cobol, the ancient Sumerian of computer languages.

[C]lerks sit in long rows of identical cubicles and enter endless sequences of numbers and letters by hand… the moment they authorize payment, triggering the transfer of money, any ability to reliably trace it disappears.