The Department of Defense has spent $66 billion since 2002 rebuilding Afghanistan. But amazingly, it can't account for $45 billion of that money. That's billion with a B.
The auditing office in charge of overseeing the reconstruction of Afghanistan has asked the Pentagon for a full account of where those funds have been spent. Twice. But the Pentagon told the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that doing so simply wasn't feasible. They may as well have just returned the request with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Matthew Gault over at the blog War is Boring reports that this lack of accountability wasn't even illegal. Keeping tabs on where that much money was flowing was simply too time consuming and deemed too burdensome. Which means we'll probably never have a full accounting of eight years worth of spending in Afghanistan.
To be clear, the Pentagon didn't technically do anything wrong. The rules just didn't require it to report how it funded the contracts, so it didn't. According to the Pentagon, hiring people now to go through millions of old contracts from the past decade would require too much time and money.
The rules on reporting foreign military sales changed in 2010, and the Pentagon has reported the information since then … but that doesn't help resurrect eight years of Afghanistan contract information lost in a sea of data the Pentagon says is infeasible to sift through.
It's truly difficult to imagine any other area of government where you couldn't get a full accounting of how $45 billion was spent. Even if your particular brand of politics leads you to believe that government spending is inherently wasteful, every other entity spending public money has to say when and where they spent that money.
With April 15th just around the corner, I'd love to see some private citizen who's being audited by the IRS respond with simply ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. [War is Boring]
Image: Kabul in 2015 via Associated Press