April 13, 2005

Truman Committee for the War on Terrorism

Pentagon's war spending hard to track - watchdog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Defense Department is unable to track how it spent tens of millions of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the U.S. war on terrorism, Congress's top investigator said on Wednesday.

The department "doesn't have a system to be able to determine with any degree of reliability and specificity how we spent" tens of millions in war-related emergency funds set aside by Congress, Comptroller General David Walker told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee.

Walker heads the Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan audit and investigative arm. He disclosed the accounting gap as part of a broader indictment of Pentagon business practices.

Congress approved $25 billion in extra defense spending for fiscal 2005, which ends on Sept. 30. Lawmakers were moving to approve $81 billion more this week outside the normal budget process, including about $75 billion for war-related Defense Department operations.

While there was no doubt that appropriated funds were spent, "trying to figure out what they were spent on is like pulling teeth," Walker said, referring to an accounting effort he said was under way for Congress.

The Defense Department had no immediate comment.
It is time for a new Truman Committee.

During the next two years the Truman committee produced detailed reports on the defense programs. Committee members frequently visited defense installations to substantiate the testimony of contractors, engineers, and army and government personnel. Truman’s success in uncovering fraud and waste led the Senate in 1942 to give the committee $100,000, an increase of $85,000 over the first year. It was estimated that the Truman committee saved the country $15 billion and spent only $400,000.
Modern Truman Committee is essential to protect the American people money from fraud, waste, and profiteering.


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