In late 2018, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) released its annual financial report, including audited financial statements.
The DoD’s financial statements help us understand how much the DoD costs, in theory. But how much does it cost to produce those financial statements, and the annual financial report itself?
One place to look is at the front of that report, On the page titled “About the Department of Defense Agency Financial Report,” there is a box at the bottom with a disclosure that reads:
"The estimated cost of this report or study for the Department of Defense is approximately $324,000 in Fiscal Years 2018 – 2019. This includes $149,000 in expenses and $175,000 in DoD labor."
Three hundred grand? For what? The ink in the report, and for people to drive trucks delivering the hard copies?
Last year, the DoD underwent its first “full financial statement audit,” after DoD leaders first asserted they were “audit ready.” DoD auditors and private accounting firms conducted a massive financial and accounting exploration mission, leading to more than 2,000 notices of findings and recommendations for weaknesses in DoD accounting practices and financial controls -- and ultimately, another disclaimer (flunk) audit opinion for the financial statements included in the Agency Financial Report.
Conducting the audit and addressing the identified issues has been estimated to cost as much as $1 billion.
Granted, this may be a little nitpicky. But the “cost of this report or study" isn’t so cheap.