The third time wasn't the charm for the Pentagon, which has once again failed to successfully complete an audit.
Thomas Harker, the Pentagon's comptroller, told Reuters that it could be another seven years before the department can pass an audit—something that it has never accomplished. Previous attempts in 2018 and 2019 turned up literally thousands of problems with the Pentagon's accounting system and millions of dollars' worth of missing equipment.
In a statement, the Pentagon lauded the fact that auditors had "cleared" more than 500 issues identified in previous audits. That serves as compelling evidence that the effort is worth it, even if a clean review is still impossible. The Pentagon had resisted being audited for years. Though Congress passed a law in 1990 requiring all federal departments to be audited every year, it still took nearly two decades for the first Pentagon audit to be attempted. The department now says it is benefiting from the process.
A full report on this year's audit, which covered more than $2.7 trillion in military assets, is expected to be released in January.
Before that, Congress is likely to sign off on a boost in military spending. As part of a new $1.4 trillion discretionary spending bill expected to be passed during the upcoming lame-duck session, the Pentagon is expected to get about a $10 billion boost in funding. That will happen in spite of another failed audit and regardless of the fact that America's budget deficit has soared to record highs in the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll.
Congress is also expected to sign off on the purchase of dozens of new F-35 fighter jets, despite the fact that last year's Pentagon audit called the entire F-35 program a "material weakness" that was putting taxpayer dollars at risk.
An audit is ultimately only as good as the people who will use it to guide future decisions. Unfortunately, Congress keeps rewarding the Pentagon's fiscal failure with more money.