"A labyrinth of arcane and incompatible accounting systems has in recent years led the department to pay the wrong amounts to troops, civilian workers and contractors; to lose track of its equipment, even hard-to-misplace planes and tanks; and to improperly document trillions of dollars in transactions that leave tax dollars vulnerable to abuse, according to government reports.
A long-elusive 'clean audit' sought by the Department of Defense - for years pegged for 2007 - is nowhere on the horizon. The agency's books are such a mess that its accountants have stopped wasting money trying to audit them.
'We don't know how badly managed it is,' said Winslow T. Wheeler, director of a military reform project at the Center for Defense Information. 'It's not that DOD flunks audits, it's that DOD's books cannot be audited. DOD aspires for the position where it flunks an audit. If this were a public company, it would have gone belly up before World War II.'"