Government Accountability Office investigations of the Department of Defense
are typically audits
in which the Government Accountability Office
(GAO), the United States Congress
’ investigative arm, studies how the Department of Defense
spends taxpayer dollars. Since the GAO is accountable only to the legislative branch, it is in a unique position to investigate the military; no other agency can audit Federal departments with the same degree of independence from the President. However, the GAO is still subject to influence from powerful members of Congress.
Two examples of major GAO investigations in the 2000s were the audits of Operation Iraqi Freedom
and Defense Department airline reimbursements.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
GAO investigations into Operation Iraqi Freedom revealed a number of accounting problems, ranging from the mundane to the severe. Pay irregularities were a chronic problem. According to a GAO report cited in Computerworld
, 450 of the 481 Army National Guard
soldiers from six Special Forces
units had at least one pay problem associated with their mobilization. The report found, "DOD’s inability to provide timely and accurate payments to these soldiers, many of whom risked their lives in recent Iraq
missions, distracted them from their missions, imposed financial hardships on the soldiers and their families and has had a negative impact on retention".
The investigation also uncovered questionable procurement
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