These days, few things in Washington elicit bipartisan action. But when it comes to wasted or unaccountable taxpayer dollars, party lines can be crossed quickly. This was certainly the case in 2008, when one of us (Tierney) broke through the ideological divide and co-sponsored legislation requiring the formation of an independent commission to investigate contract waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. That Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, co-chaired by the other of us (Shays), ultimately found that up to $60 billion of U.S. taxpayer money had been lost. Such an eye-popping figure illuminates how public resources can be wildly mismanaged and abused without proper oversight.
Unfortunately, contract waste and fraud is only the tip of the iceberg. With the largest discretionary budget of any federal executive department, it is unconscionable that the Pentagon cannot account for how it spends its roughly $600 billion in annual resources. In fact, it is illegal.