What happens when you, as an individual, can’t track your finances? What happens when your business misreports its income because it can’t track expenses or revenues?
Well, that’s pretty obvious. You might bounce a check, or the IRS might all up in your business.
But, when the Federal Government does it, no big deal.
You see, the Feds not only have a spending problem; they have a tracking problem as well. In short, the government doesn’t really know how much it’s actually spending.
According to a new Senate report, over half of the data the website USAspending.gov which reports on the spending for all the federal agencies, is either inaccurate or incomplete.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee analyzed spending data for fiscal year 2017 for 25 federal agencies which represent roughly 77% of all federal spending for that fiscal year. And the results were rather sobering.
The Senate report says “at least 55 percent of the spending data submitted to USAspending.gov – submissions representing roughly $240 billion (out of $779 billion) – was incomplete, inaccurate, or both. Inaccurate spending data frustrates the purpose of the DATA Act: a user friendly search engine detailing government-wide spending.”
Just for your information, The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 required agencies to disclose expenditures and link information on those expenditures to federal program activities.
It also required The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department to establish government-wide financial data standards that would specify, define, and describe the data to be submitted to increase the consistency and comparability of information from the various agencies. Both agencies were required by the Act to “increase the quantity, quality, and transparency of spending data available to agencies, Congress, and the public by establishing standards to enable the reporting and tracking of Government-wide spending at multiple points in the spending life cycle” and publish the data on USAspending.gov.
In 2017, the US government reports to have spent $3.98 TRILLION. Except, maybe not, and perhaps information about $240 billion is now suspect.
Which agencies are the most egregious violators?
The Social Security Administration posted that it spent $248,077,220,903. But 36.9% of that report is wrong. Put another way, something happened to $91.5 BILLION!! It may have been spent properly. Or not.
The Treasury Department, one of the agencies responsible for USASpending.gov, has a 96.2% error rate on its reporting.
Isn’t that interesting, the Treasury Department, which runs the IRS, makes mistakes in its spending report 96.2% of the time.
Except the IRS is even worse than its parent organization. It has a 97% reporting error rate. But that shouldn’t bother anybody, right? It’s not like this agency is the one charged for collecting taxes and pursuing those people who don’t properly report their incomes or anything. And we thought Tea Party targeting was bad.
Two agencies didn’t even report their spending. Housing and Urban Development didn’t even bother describing where all their money goes. Agriculture actually didn’t have the program in place in 2017, but should be reporting for fiscal year 2018.
Guess which two agencies misreport 100% of the time? Energy and Defense. They screw up their accounting 100% of the time. No wonder toilet seats on the C-130 cost $10,000 apiece. Or solar panel corporate welfare is still a slush fund.
Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem, and one of the ways to help the average citizen keep track of OUR money, is inaccurate and incomplete.
Remember, the federal government will continue to spend other people’s money as long as no one knows how much that amount actually is. And the federal government is probably doing its best to make sure we never, ever, ever find out.