The Defense Department Inspector General revealed in a report last week that the Pentagon is spending hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars each year for improper travel reimbursements. According to the IG numbers, improper payments for things like travel expenses for airfare, hotels and rental cars totaled more than $458 million in 2014.
Oddly enough, that number is 7 percent higher than it was in 2012 when the Defense Department first began looking at ways to reduce the number of improper payments with programs to better track receipts and travel expense approvals.
Part of the reason the number increased, the IG reported, is that Defense officials never made an effort to better understand why so many improper payments were being approved in the first place.
“Without identifying the reasons that authorizing officials approve improper vouchers for payment, DoD will continue to be at high risk for making improper payments for travel,” according to the IG report.
And the problem could be far bigger, according to the IG. A watchdog review of 5,000 random military travel vouchers filed during the latter half of 2014 revealed that every one of the vouchers contained an error.
Meanwhile, each candidate in the current GOP presidential race is vowing to increase military spending.
Last fall, in announcing a plan that would add $1 trillion in new military spending, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared: “Defense spending is not the reason why we have a debt. Our national debt … is driven by mandatory spending programs that need to be reformed.”
And of his own plan to increase military spending, Ted Cruz has quipped: “If you think it’s too expensive to defend this nation, try not defending it.”
As for Donald Trump, he said earlier this month he wants to cut spending in every area of government except for the military.
“Not for the military, because the military we have to build up,” he said.
Yet there’s not a word about making the military spend money more efficiently, or reining in spending on overseas boondoggles.
And while the aforementioned IG report represents only a small slice of the overall military budget, it’s one of hundreds of stories on military waste that will quietly make news in the year ahead.
You’d think at least a run-it-like-a-business guy like Trump would understand that increased accountability in military spending is long overdue and vital to the nation’s safety at a time when debt is one of the biggest threats to its well-being.
Read more on military waste: