The Pentagon Literally Has More Money Than It Knows What To Do With

Bullet Points

The Pentagon failed to spend an eye-popping $27.7 billion of the funds it was allocated over five fiscal years – and President Donald Trump intends to give the U.S. military even more taxpayer cash to play with next year.


  • According to a report from the Department of Defense Inspector General on the department's first-ever audit, the Pentagon did not spend $27.7 billion between fiscals 2013 and 2018.
  • "The $28 billion spans five years starting in fiscal 2013," Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood told Task & Purpose on Wednesday. "This is less than 1 percent of the department's budget over that time period."
  • How did this happen? Defense officials literally didn't spend the money fast enough. "Money appropriated by Congress expires if it isn't spent within certain time frames and typically can no longer be used for new spending," as Bloomberg Government explains. "For example, money in procurement accounts is available for three years, research accounts for two years while money in personnel and operations and maintenance accounts expires after one year."
  • The unspent funds, revealed as part of the first-ever full audit of Pentagon coffers, came just one month after Trump signaled to then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis that he planned on requesting a record $750 billion in national security spending for fiscal year 2020.
  • That proposed $750 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 would constitute an 8% increase over that $692 billion for fiscal signed into law by Trump in December 2017.
  • The DoD IG report comes amid Trump's stated plan to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress in order to nail down $5.7 billion in funds for construction of a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a project that would dip into the DoD's budget to mobilize the military to complete the barrier.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that all $28 billion was not spent in fiscal 2018.

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