By Adam Andrzejewski
The Department of Defense, one of the largest federal agencies, has admitted to losing track of over $220 billion worth of equipment it gave out to military contractors, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The DoD frequently contracts with third parties for a host of services such as intelligence gathering, weapons development, and transportation. Sometimes, the DoD will loan out government property to these contractors, including ammunition, missiles, and torpedoes, to help the contractors accomplish their mission goals. Unfortunately, the DoD has done a poor job of keeping track of these assets.
The report found that the $220 billion in equipment the agency has lost track of is likely “significantly understated.” The report also cites lost equipment as one of the reasons the DoD can’t balance its books. The agency has never passed an audit, and the agency could only account for 39% of its $3.5 trillion in assets during its last audit in November 2022.
This is not a new problem, with auditors first noting the agency had a material weakness in tracking assets in 2001. Since then, leadership has tried multiple times to create a database to document its assets, but has failed every single time. It has begun the process of starting a database of assets for the eighth time, this time pledging to have a system in place by 2026.
It’s not only fiscally irresponsible for the Pentagon to lose track of $220 billion in assets, it’s a risk to national security when the Pentagon loans out weapons without ever following up on what happened to them.
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