Dept. of Defense Accounting System Or The Waste of Billions with no Accountability

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is story has three parts, but I am only going to cover one for now. All of my information is gleaned from and investigation by Reuters. I would just send out a link, but it is basically a report the size of a small novel, so hardly anyone I know will wade through it. So I am going to try and just cover some key points in the first section of the investigation. I believe this is probably the most important blog I will have done to date. Any of you who are retired or receiving any benefits stemming from your military career could be directly affected at any time. So you should read this blog, and I will of course include the link to the original article, which all of you should read. Any political leanings, voting habits, or any other well meaning action taken hoping to effect our economics cannot be accurate without understanding the problems these three parts lay out. As I said only one section for now, the rest may come later.

The first segment deals with the Pentagons payroll quagmire that inflicts punishing errors on America’s warriors. There were and are a huge population of military to choose from that have been ruined by this bureaucracy with no recourse, but I will just give you two examples. The article lists names, but I will refrain. You can examine the original at your leisure for this type of info.

A 30 year old wounded vet, on active duty still, mind you, was in his second month of physical and psychological reconstruction at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, after two tours of combat duty had left him shattered. His war-related afflictions included traumatic brain injury, severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abnormal eye movements due to nerve damage, chronic pain, and a hip injury. But the problem that loomed largest was different. He had no money. The Defense Department was withholding big chunks of his pay. It had started that October, when he received $2,337.56, instead of his normal monthly take-home pay of about $3,300. He quickly raised the issue with staff. It only got worse. For all of December, his pay came to $117.99.

Now this all started when he was wounded and wound up in Germany for treatment. The problem was he did not arrive to the hospital on a plane. His unit had transferred back to Germany and had taken him with them. So he arrived for treatment via bus. So because they only met planes and took names to change status to wounded warrior, he was not. So now they wanted to be paid back for meals he might have in the hospital, etc. It is not clear, because he could never get them to tell him why he owed them money. He had to sell or hock everything his family owned, take out an emergency loan, just to keep food on the table. Even after admitting they had made an accounting mistake, they would not refund any monies, and it took months for his pay to rise to where it was supposed to be. After Reuters got involved, some, but not all, of the money was returned.

Another man, in the national guard, was posted in a combat area. He was the victim of a rocket attack. He was taken, unconscious to the hospital and survived. After he returned to the states and got a job, his wages were garnished by the military for all the equipment he had on and with him because he did not turn it back in. Again, only after Reuters got involved did they drop it. However he never got all the money back they took. Now this happens again, and again, with no recourse by servicemen. Most are never given any reason, their replies are not answered, the money just keeps getting held out of their pay. Now sometimes this is because they were overpaid because they did not drop pay when service was no longer in a war zone, etc. However, they would pull almost entire paychecks with no explanation. But a majority is accounting errors, from an outdated, archaic accounting system that is out of control.

The defense department is still using the original software Cobal, which is forty years old. It cannot communicate with new systems, it did not work well when it was new, and now it is a disaster. At last count there were 167 manual work arounds because the system has whole sections corrupted and no one knows how to service it. The manuals are actually lost, and they do not deny this. So for example, if you need to pass information form one area to another, computer-to-computer does not work. A huge cohort of manual typists has to come in, type up or sometimes transcribe huge amounts of data, and then hand carry it to the entity needing the info. Again having to be reentered into those offices computers. You begin to see how information gets garbled. The pentagon has 2,200 computers to handle finances, which cannot communicate, most of which each section has made their own program changes so the are not compatible in any way. It is a disaster.

One last example, a three star that was retired was asked to come back on active duty to serve in Iraq. Accounting correctly stopped his retirement pay, but because the programming said that if that happened it meant the individual was deceased, he and his family got nothing, not a single dime in pay. To add insult to injury, they generated a message that was sent to the family saying how sorry they were that he had died. This while in a war zone. So if they treat a three stars this way, what chance does private Jones have. This costs us, just for this wonderful finance system for our armed services, 17.3 billion annually. Most of which is waste dealing with this outdated archaic system. All efforts to change this have been slapped down by the bureaucracy that is Washington, even though in the long run it would save money, a lot of money.

The other two sections are “Faking It”, and “Broken Fixes”. The first explains that because defense department cannot ever match up with the budgeted money, they add or subtract what they call plugs. They just make up numbers so they do match, and don’t even hide that this is what they are doing. Well from us they do! It goes on to discuss billions in waste. The second, “Broken Fixes” describes attempts by politicians and military personnel to update, which has been expensive and then dropped. We all know how good the feds are with setting up computer systems.

I would like to add that all military services use this antiquated system except one, the Marine Corp. I have no idea how they escaped this disaster, or whether they have one of their own, but I would like to believe that my Marine Corps has it “stuff” together!

P.S.
There is a law on the books that each section of the government must go through an audit every year. The pentagon has never, ever, complied with this law. They say that they cannot comply because they do not have the capability to know where the money is or how it is being used. I don’t understand why that seems to be ok, but obviously it seems to satisfy our politicians as they are still not complying to this day! The link that will take you to the original articles is below.

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part1

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