Leave it to the Government Accountability Office. Instead of sending along warm tidings of joy, the GAO is delivering out a sharp kick in the pants to the Pentagon, whose books remain a national embarrassment.
In fact, the military’s financial statements are so miserably kept that the federal government’s top accountants just can’t make sense of them.
"As was the case in 2010, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual- based consolidated financial statements were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government's inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements."
Of course, the Defense Department’s horrible record at bookkeeping is so entrenched, it's less hot news than a continual gift for whichever political party happens to be in the minority.
Across the government, though, the outlook isn’t much better, GAO warns. "While the Budget Control Act of 2011 improved the outlook, it did not fundamentally change the longer-term path over the next few decades, according to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. "Dealing with the federal government's longer-term fiscal challenges will require sustained attention and difficult decisions. These fiscal challenges further highlight the need for the Congress, the administration, and federal managers to have reliable and complete financial and performance information both for individual federal entities and for the federal government as a whole."