Can't Government Balance Its Books?

April 14, 1999

If you tend to procrastinate, then you are probably one of those taxpayers who is just now trying to put all of your receipts in order so you can file your income taxes before the April 15 deadline. But I would say that even if you are very disorganized, you have the federal government beat hands down.

You see, the U.S. government cannot balance its books. It can't even properly explain how it spent $1.8 trillion last year. It can't even account for $1.6 trillion in such assets as parks, buildings, missile launchers, tanks and paper clips. By the way, that's a total of $3.4 trillion.

Congressman Steve Horn says that bottom line is that "once again, billions of taxpayer dollars were lost to waste, fraud and mismanagement." His subcommittee on government reform and oversight is in charge of reviewing the government's attempt at producing a Consolidated Financial Statement.

This was the second time in U.S. history that the government tried to comply with a 1994 law requiring it to account in a businesslike way for revenues, expenditures and assets of the 24 Cabinet-level departments and agencies. And for the second time, the statement failed to meet accounting standards acceptable to the General Accounting Office.

In other words, the government keeps worse records than you do. There were serious deficiencies in record keeping, documentation, financial reporting and controls. Congressman Pete Sessions, who has been working for management reform in the executive branch, says that this lack of reliable information has made him feel "like a doctor performing surgery with a blindfold on."

Well, just remember that the next time the IRS calls you in for an audit. They may be asking you for records that they could not produce if the tables were turned.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.