We all know the Department of Defense receives one of the larger allocations from the federal budget, but is that money always spent wisely?
Looking at the Afghanistan War alone, that answer is no.
ProPublica compiled a seemingly endless list of $17 billion in wasteful spending, but here are a few of the big zingers:
-$8 billion for a failed drug war: Despite a 14-year effort, Afghanistan now leads the world in heroin production.
-$2 billion for roads Afghanistan cannot afford to maintain.
-$936 million for underused aircraft: Afghanistan does not have enough trained people to use them for counterterrorism missions.
-$486 million for useless aircraft: Speaking of planes, 20 planes could not be flown, and most were sold for scraps.
-$43 million for one gas station: Wait, aren’t gas stations private businesses? A DoD task force developed one anyway. Even further, it was an alternative natural gas station, and most cars were equipped for, well, regular gas.
To paint a picture of how much money the DoD wasted, ProPublica created an info graphic where you can choose one instance of waste and see what it could have funded.
For instance, just the $1.4 billion from underused and useless aircraft could have translated into clinics and community centers for veterans, and job training for 1.4 million veterans, youth and other workers. Moreover, wasteful defense spending translates into a weaker national defense in a time of rising global uncertainty.
Legislators like Sens. John McCain and James Lankford are fed up with the lack of accountability in spending. McCain’s “America’s Most Wasted” report and Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” report continue the legacy of Sen. Tom Coburn’s celebrated “Wastebook,” which revealed billions of wasteful spending.
In 2015, Lankford also introduced the Taxpayer’s Right to Know Act, which would create a database of federal agencies’ spending.
Lucky for taxpayers that want to know where their money is going, the twin House bill passed, and the Senate added it to the floor schedule.
$17 billion may not even be the full extent of the Pentagon’s wasteful spending in Afghanistan. Last week, ATR reported on a failed $800 million Pentagon budget meant to produce growth and stabilization in the Middle Eastern country. This is why an audit of their books is more important than ever. Until the Pentagon and other agencies become transparent with their spending, the taxpayers will never know.