Pentagon Audit Worse Than Reported: At Least $21 Trillion Unaccounted For

Just a couple weeks ago, the Pentagon acknowledged that it had failed its first ever audit. The news of rampant misspending and errors was terrible, but the Department of Defense attempted to mitigate the extent of the problem by declining to release precise figures. Now we’re starting to get a sense of why that was.

According to an investigation by The Nation, at least $21 trillion in Pentagon money cannot be accounted for from 1998 to 2015. For some perspective, the U.S. government only spends about $4 trillion per year, which would indicate we’ve lost/wasted about five years worth of our entire annual budget on who knows what over a 17-year span.

Oh, and that figure has to be couched with “at least” because that figure only includes the reports the Office of Inspector General was able to look at – that office did not keep tabs on all of the Pentagon’s spending.

In its previous announcement, the Pentagon was careful to say that while the DoD needs to keep better tabs on its spending and inventory to close “accounting gaps,” it found no examples of fraud. However, The Nation alleges:

“For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress – representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions – knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the DoD the following year.”

By law, the Pentagon should be returning all unspent money at the end of the year to the Treasury. Rather than doing that, the Pentagon would shift/launder that money to other parts of the budget market for five-year spending. Since five-year spending money doesn’t need to be returned to the Treasury, that allowed the Pentagon to keep the funds.

According to anonymous Pentagon sources, Defense officials would often engage in a trick known as “nippering,” which involves reallocating money to different purposes so many times that they become “virtually untraceable.”

Does that mean that all $21 trillion has been misappropriated? No, it’s still not clear to the public or Congress for that matter how this money was spent or where it went. But that’s precisely the problem. There’s no accountability as to how the money has been used and no discernible way for even private accountants to determine what has become of this money.

Every agency in the government is required to undergo regular audits to make sure these kinds of shenanigans can’t occur, yet until now the Pentagon has managed to escape scrutiny under the excuse that it’s “too big” to do a proper audit on. It’s clear that the Pentagon concocted this excuse to continue to perpetuate financial fraud, and we need to demand more accountability.

Take Action

Our country spends more on the military than the next several countries combined, and it’s become clear why – the Pentagon kept faking spending so it could ask for even more money the following year. It’s time to stop this wasteful, expensive cycle. Sign this petition telling Congress to stop boosting the Defense budget, particularly in light of this recent audit/investigation.


Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill7 months ago


Carole R
Carole R7 months ago

Awful. But I'm not surprised.

David C
David C7 months ago


Latoya B
Latoya Brookins7 months ago

Yet people who make minimum wage end up in jail or homeless for missed payments.

Brian F
Brian F7 months ago

Both corrupt parties have stolen our social security money, and they problably stole this money too. Our defence industry owns both corrupt parties and both corrupt parties voted to give this crook Trump his 700 billion dollar military budget.

Mike R
Mike R7 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Julie D
Julie D7 months ago

Outrageous! Surely it isn't "missing" but sitting the accounts of those who make their fortunes off of war and the military complex.

Debbi W
Debbi W7 months ago

There is more to that story, and I hope we will learn what that is.

Karin Hanson
Karin Hanson7 months ago

Hmmm.... no surprise here - only the Greedy Old Perverts would know where all the monies went, (or are).