It's no surprise that there is a lack of oversight in the areas of government responsible for defense, after all, there are numerous black budget programs that are highly insulated and compartmentalized.
So after all these years of waging war to the tune of billions of dollars every day, who has all the receipts?
That's what researchers at Michigan State University are wondering, exactly who is overseeing the trillions of dollars being spent by the Defense Department? It turns out no one.
Economist Mark Skidmore and his team of graduate students began investigating the Defense Department's spending and they found a terrifying secret, $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.
Skidmore and his team began digging into government websites and repeated queries to U.S. agencies that went unanswered. Their queries even coincided with the disabling of the links to all key documents showing the unsupported spending as the government tried to hide the illegal spending.
Luckily, the researchers at MSU backed up the websites and saved the documents. Now, all of a sudden, the Defense Department announced it is conducting its very first audit. Yes, you read that right. The Defense Department is conducting its FIRST audit.
The Defense Department did not say what led to the decision for the audit but its pretty clear that Skidmore's discovery was in the very least influential in that decision.
Skidmore said, "While we can’t know for sure what role our efforts to compile original government documents and share them with the public has played, we believe it may have made a difference."
Skidmore first began probing defense spending when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which said the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported spending in fiscal 2015.
Considering the Army's $122 billion budget, that meant the unsupported spending was 54 times what was authorized by Congress. Skidmore even thought Fitts had made some kind of a mistake saying, "Maybe she meant $6.5 billion and not $6.5 trillion. So I found the report myself and sure enough, it was $6.5 trillion."
The realization inspired the pair to work together and investigate how deep the problem went. After graduate students spend the summer combing through government websites looking for similar documents, they came to the conclusion a total of $21 trillion had been spent without authorization.
In an article Skidmore wrote with Laurence Kotlikoff, the pair conclude the "gargantuan nature" of the undocumented federal spending "should be a great concern to all taxpayers."
"Taken together these reports point to a failure to comply with basic constitutional and legislative requirements for spending and disclosure," the article concludes. "We urge the House and Senate Budget Committee to initiate immediate investigations of unaccounted federal expenditures as well as the source of their payment."
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