Friday, April 18, 2008

Getting Away With It 

When an organization is big enough, it can get away with more. At least that is the case for the Department of Defense, which still cannot audit its books. One wonders why there isn't a severe hit to the DOD's reputation for its inability to perform adequate accounting.

Why, for example, hasn't Congress hauled the senior bureaucrats in the Defense Department before it and demanded answers? There is one explanation that appears obvious. The senior bureaucrats will ask for billions to pay for new systems to do better accounting. Those billions won't be forthcoming because tax money goes to payroll and weapon systems. Hence, everyone looks the other way.

Eventually the DOD will suffer for its prolonged mismanagement. It will happen the usual way -- through a scandal too big to ignore. Suddenly, Congressmen will discover the horrid financial mess and demand that it be cleaned up -- and it just might be. I don't expect to be alive when that day comes.

No corporation would be allowed to run as badly as DOD. Its executives would be jailed. But, there is a difference between public agencies and private business. There is more tolerance for frailty among public servants.

I wonder if there is a fear within the DOD and above that military secrets might be revealed if the books are audited and the wrong people discover the cost of a particular weapon and where it's delivered, etc. Where do you draw the line between security and accountability? Or, how do you make an organization accountable when you don't have all the info?

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