$4.3 billion system army uses to track spending...can't track spending

If you ask our army to win a war, they perform maginificently. Ask our army to keep track of spending and...well, let's just say they're working on it.

A $4.3 billion system set up by the US army to track spending and supplies has failed, according to a report by the Department of Defense inspector general.

Washington Examiner:

More than $725 million was spent by the Army on a high-tech network for tracking supplies and expenses that failed to comply with federal financial reporting rules meant to allow auditors to track spending, according to an inspector general’s report issued Wednesday.

The Global Combat Support System-Army, a logistical support system meant to track supplies, spare parts and other equipment, was launched in 1997. In 2003, the program switched from custom software to a web-based commercial software system.

About $95 million was spent before the switch was made, according to the report from the Department of Defense IG.

As of this February, the Army had spent $725.7 million on the system, which is ultimately expected to cost about $4.3 billion.

The problem, according to the IG, is that the Army has failed to comply with a variety of federal laws that require agencies to standardize reporting and prepare auditable financial statements.

“This occurred because DOD and Army management did not have adequate controls, including procedures and annual reviews, in place to ensure GCSS-Army compliance with Treasury and DOD guidance,” the IG report concludes.

“Although Army personnel have been responsive to correcting deficiencies identified during the audit, the Army has spent $725.7 million on a system that still has significant obstacles to overcome” to comply with federal financial reporting laws.

Among the shortfalls in the Army’s accounting system were discrepancies in reported debits and credits, which would understate the amount spent and overstate the amount still available for the project, according to the IG.

When you have a bureaucracy that spends upwards of $120 billion a year, it's relatively easy to lose track of some of it simply because government departments have no incentive to count pennies. There is no reward for being frugal with the taxpayer's coin, nor is there any punishment for being profligate. The bureaucrats get paid either way and therein lies the problem.

It's a government-wide issue and given the draconian civil service rules that prevent the firing of government workers for incompetence or negligence, it's not surprising that a program set up to track spending can't track spending. I'm sure there are many hard working, dedicated, patriotic workers who constantly battle the bad managers and the slackers. But there aren't enough of them, and few are in positions where they can make a real difference.

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