(NEWSER– A Reuters investigation looks deep inside one of the biggest and most complex works of military fiction of all time: the Pentagon's books. Defense Department sources say it is routine to use phony numbers—"plugs"—to make the numbers of defense agencies match those from the Treasury in the face of missing and incorrect numbers. Reuters found that accountants with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon's main accounting agency, would try to go back and correct their entries; they only succeeded sometimes, and the fraudulent accounting has helped conceal untold billions of dollars worth of waste. And yet "because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts," the Pentagon has yet to undergo a single audit since 1996, though federal agencies are required to have them yearly. The lack of an audit means $8.5 trillion—almost $27,000 for every man, woman, and child in America—has gone unaccounted for.

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