Why did Google suppress auto-complete for “Clinton Body Count”?

Why did Google suppress the search suggestion for “Clinton Body Count”?

Notice that Google omits every single prediction. Why is this? According to Google, all the Google search predictions are built off of user search data.

According to Google’s public statements, if there isn’t a search prediction then it’s because there is no one searching for that term. This would be fine and dandy if it weren’t for Google’s other service: trends.google.com which shows the real search traffic.

Continued: Why did Google suppress auto-complete for “Clinton Body Count”?

How Monsanto’s “intelligence center” Targeted Journalists and Activists

Internal documents show how the company worked to discredit critics and investigated singer Neil Young

 Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller. Photograph: Carey Gillam
Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller. Photograph: Carey Gillam

Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit journalists and activists, and targeted a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company, documents reveal. The agrochemical corporation also investigated the singer Neil Young and wrote an internal memo on his social media activity and music.

The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism.

The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller…

Continued: Revealed: how Monsanto’s ‘intelligence center’ targeted journalists and activists

USAID Spends $89.7 Million Finding Jobs for 55 Afghan Women

Afghan women walk with their children / Getty Images
Afghan women walk with their children / Getty Images

“A federal government program to promote gender equality in Afghanistan and help women find employment is costing taxpayers over $200 million but has only found jobs for 55 women.”

‘The USAID program, Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs, or Promote, is a five-year $216 million effort. USAID has spent $89.7 million in three years but “has not demonstrated whether the program has made progress” toward its goals…’

A 2017 goal of the program was to help 420 women find new or better employment, enroll 1,968 women in the internship program, and have 900 program graduates. By halfway through the year, Promote had only found new or better employment for 39 women, or 9.2 percent of its goal.”

Continued: USAID Spends $89.7 Million Finding Jobs for 55 Afghan Women

Massachusetts Cop Pleads Guilty to Pocketing $11,000 for Hours He Didn’t Work

“Of the $249,407 Sweeny received in 2015, overtime pay accounted for $111,808 of it. Of the $218,512 he earned in 2016, overtime pay made up $95,895.”

A Massachusetts state trooper is pleading guilty to pocketing $11,000 in overtime pay for hours that he didn’t actually work.

Kevin Sweeney, 40, of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) found a way to game the system in order to receive extra money for shifts that he either left early or did not work at all…

“Sweeney concealed his fraud by submitting fraudulent citations designed to create the appearance that he had worked overtime hours that he had not, and falsely claimed in MSP paperwork and payroll entries that he had worked the entirety of his overtime shifts…”

Story: Massachusetts Cop Pleads Guilty to Pocketing $11,000 for Hours He Didn’t Work | Reason

One QUARTER of Suspended Feds Have Been Suspended Before

Official data show serious discipline for feds is rare, but secret settlements obscure true figures.

One in four federal employees suspended by federal agencies in 2016 had been suspended before, according to a new review, which suggested an array of best practices for agencies to reduce misconduct in the workplace…

The review examined misconduct issues rather than poor performance. GAO cited as examples of misconduct “time and attendance infractions; intoxication; workplace violence; physical aggression toward an employee; improper use of a government-issued credit card; misuse of government equipment (such as viewing pornography or gambling); use of public position for private gain; and behavior that affects national security.”

Continued: One Quarter of Suspended Feds Have Been Suspended Before

Feinstein’s Ties To China Go Way Deeper Than An Alleged Office Spy

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s warm relationship with and advocacy for Communist China go back decades and involve millions, if not billions, of dollars.

As media, intelligence agency, and political scrutiny of foreign meddling is seemingly at its apex, a story with big national security implications involving a high-ranking senator with access to America’s most sensitive intelligence information has been hiding in plain sight…

Feinstein’s dealings with the Chinese must be investigated. But so too ought the links between federal officials and all of our adversaries, be it the Chinese and Russians, the Pakistanis and Iranians, or the Muslim Brotherhood and its state supporters. Feinstein is only one politician. How many other relationships with American politicians have the Chinese and our other adversaries fostered? How many spies might they have recruited?

Continue reading: Feinstein’s Ties To China Go Way Deeper Than An Alleged Office Spy

TSA surveilling travelers’ behavior through secretive program

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun collecting information on travelers through a program that monitors citizens not on a terror watch list or suspected of a crime, The Boston Globe reported.

The Globe reported Saturday that the program, titled “Quiet Skies,” aims to eliminate threats posed by “unknown or partially known terrorists.”

Undercover air marshals reportedly document passengers’ behavior, including whether they use technology when traveling, whether they change clothes at the airport, how closely they stand to the boarding area and other patterns…

Continued: TSA surveilling travelers’ behavior through secretive program: report | TheHill

MRI costs: why this surgeon is challenging NC’s certificate of need law

Dr. Gajendra Singh, a surgeon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who opened his own medical imaging center. He is suing to overturn the state’s “certificate of need” law.  Courtesy of the Institute of Justice
Dr. Gajendra Singh, a surgeon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who opened his own medical imaging center. He is suing to overturn the state’s “certificate of need” law.  Courtesy of the Institute of Justice

Dr. Gajendra Singh walked out of his local hospital’s outpatient department last year, having been told an ultrasound for some vague abdominal pain he was feeling would cost $1,200 or so, and decided enough was enough. If he was balking at the price of a routine medical scan, what must people who weren’t well-paid medical professionals be thinking?

The India-born surgeon decided he would open his own imaging center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and charge a lot less. Singh launched his business in August and decided to post his prices, as low as $500 for an MRI, on a banner outside the office building and on his website.

There was just one barrier to fully realizing his vision: a North Carolina law that he and his lawyers argue essentially gives hospitals a monopoly over MRI scans and other services.

Singh ran into the state’s “certificate of need” law, which prohibited him from buying a permanent MRI machine, which meant his office couldn’t always offer patients one of the most important imaging services in medicine. He has resorted to renting a mobile MRI machine a couple of days a week. But it will cost him a lot more over time than a permanent machine would, and five days a week, his office can’t perform MRIs.

Now Singh has had enough. He filed a lawsuit Monday in North Carolina Superior Court to overturn the state law, news that he and his attorneys from the Institute for Justice shared exclusively with Vox…

Central banks manipulating & suppressing gold prices, says industry expert

© Leonhard Foeger / Reuters
© Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

Gold price suppression by the world’s central banks is a well-documented fact, according to Singapore’s BullionStar precious metals expert Ronan Manly. He explained to RT.com why that’s the case.

Central banks have a long and colorful history of manipulating the gold price. This manipulation has taken many shapes and forms over the years. It also shouldn’t be surprising that central banks intervene in the gold market given that they also intervene in all other financial markets. It would be naive to think that the gold market should be any different.

© Tamara Abdul Hadi

In fact, gold is a special case. Gold to central bankers is like the sun to vampires. They are terrified of it, yet in some ways they are in awe of it. Terrified since gold is an inflation barometer and an indicator of the relative strength of fiat currencies. The gold price influences interest rates and bond prices. But central bankers (who know their job) are also in awe of gold since they respect and understand gold’s value and power within the international monetary system and the importance of gold as a reserve asset.

So central banks are keenly aware of gold, they hold large quantities of it in their vaults as a store of value and as financial insurance, but they are also permanently on guard against allowing a fully free market for gold in which they would not have at least some form of influence over price direction and market sentiment.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) crops up frequently in gold price manipulation as the central coordination venue and the guiding hand behind a lot of the gold price suppression plans. This is true in all decades from the 1960s right the way through to the 2000s. If you want to know about central bank gold price manipulation, the BIS is a good place to start. Unfortunately the BIS is a law onto itself and does not answer to anyone, except its central banks members.

In the 1960s, central bank manipulation of the gold price was conducted in the public domain, predominantly through the London Gold Pool. This was in the era of a fixed official gold price of $35 an ounce. Here the US Treasury and a consortium of central banks from Western Europe explicitly kept the gold price near $35 an ounce, coordinating their operation from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland, while using the Bank of England in London as a transaction agent. This price manipulation broke down in March 1968 when the US Treasury ran out of good delivery gold, which triggered the move to a “free market” gold price.

© Chromorange

Central banks continued to surpress gold prices in the 1970s both through efforts to demonetize gold and also dump physical gold into the market to dampen price action. These sales were unilateral e.g. US Treasury gold sales in 1975 and over 1978-1979, and also coordinated (and orchestrated by the US) e.g. IMF gold sales across 1976-1980.

Collusion to manipulate the price also went underground, for example in late 1979 and early 1980 when the gold price was rocketing higher, the same central banks from the London Gold Pool again met at the opaque BIS in Switzerland at the behest of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve in an attempt to launch a new and secretive Gold Pool to reign in the gold price. This was essentially a revival of the old gold pool, or Gold Pool 2.0.

These meetings, which are not very well known about, were of the G10 central bank governors, i.e. at the highest levels of world finance. All of the discussions are documented in black and white in the Bank of England archives and can be read on the BullionStar website.

The wording in these discussions is very revealing and show the contempt which central bankers feel about a freely functioning gold market.

Phrases used in these meetings include:

there is a need to break the psychology of the market” and “no question of any permanent stabilisation of the gold price, merely at a critical time holding it within a target area” and  “to stabilise the price within a moving band” and “it would be easy and nice for central banks to force the price down hard and quickly“.

And these meetings of top central bankers were in early 1980, 11 years after the London Gold Pool and 8 years after the US Treasury reneged on its commitment in August 1971 to convert foreign holdings of US dollars into gold.

Whether this new BIS gold pool was rolled out in the 1980s is open to debate, but it was discussed across the board for months by the Governors at the BIS, and may have been introduced in a form which would provide physical gold to the oil producers (gold for oil trades) without putting a rocket under the gold price. Their main worry was to allow the Middle Eastern oil producers to acquire some gold for oil without pushing the gold price up.

© Pavel Lisitsyn

The Bank of England was also involved in the 1980s in influencing prices in the London Gold Fix auctions, in what an ex Bank of England staffer described euphemistically as ‘helping the fixes’. And the Bank of England has even at times used terminology in the 1980s such as “smoothing operations” and “stabilisation operations” when referring to coordinated central bank efforts to control the gold price.

Probably two of the most influential changes on the gold market in the modern era are structural changes to the gold market which channel gold demand away from physical gold and into paper gold. These two changes were the introduction of unallocated accounts and fractionally backed gold holdings in the London Gold market from the 1980s onwards, and the introduction of gold futures trading in the US in January 1975.

In unallocated gold trading in the London OTC market, gold trades are cash-settled and there is rarely any physical delivery of gold. The trading positions are merely claims against bullion banks who don’t hold anywhere near the amount of gold to back up the claims. Unallocated bullion is therefore just a synthetic paper gold position that provides exposure to the gold price but doesn’t drive demand for physical gold.

When gold futures were launched in the US in January 1975, the primary reason for their introduction, according to a US State Department cable at the time, was to create an alternative to the physical market that would syphon off demand for gold, creating trading that would dwarf the physical market, and which would also ramp up volatility which in turn would deter investors from investing in physical gold. Gold futures are also fractionally backed and overwhelmingly cash-settled, and their trading volumes are astronomical multiples of actual delivery volumes.

Central banks as regulators of financial markets are therefore ultimately responsible for allowing the emergence of fractional reserve gold trading in London and New York. This trading undermines the demand for physical gold and allows the world gold price to be formed in these synthetic gold trading venues. Price discovery is not happening in physical gold markets. Its is happening in the London OTC (unallocated) and COMEX derivative markets. So this is also a form of gold price manipulation since the central banks know how these markets function, but they do nothing to crack down on what are essentially gold ponzi schemes.

© Ilya Naymushin

Imagine, for example, that central banks were as tough on paper gold as they seem to be now on crypto currency markets. Now imagine if central banks outlawed fractional gold trading or scare-mongered about it in the same way that they do about crypto currencies? What would happen is that the gold market participants would panic and unwind their paper positions, precipitating a disconnect between paper gold and physical gold markets. So by being lenient on the fractional structure of trading in the gold markets, central banks and their regulators are implicitly encouraging activities that have a dampening effect on the gold price.

The gold lending market, mostly centred in London, is another area in which central banks have the ability to cap the gold price. Here central banks transfer their physical gold holdings to bullion banks and this physical gold then enters the market. These transactions can either be in the form of gold loans or gold swaps. This extra supply of gold through the loans and swaps disturbs the existing supply demand balance, and so has a depressing effect on the gold price.

The gold lending market is totally opaque and secretive with no obligatory or voluntary reporting by either central bank lenders or bullion bank borrowers. The Bank of England has a major role in the gold lending market as the gold used in lending is almost all sourced from the central bank custody holding in the Bank of England’s vaults.

There is therefore zero informational efficiency in gold lending, and that’s the way the central banks like it. furthermore, freedom of information requests about gold lending are almost always shot down by central banks, even sometimes on ‘national security’ grounds.

Many central banks have lent out their gold long ago, and just hold a ‘gold receivable’ on their balance sheet, which is a claim against a bullion bank or bullion banks. These bullion banks roll over the liability to the central bank for years on end and the original gold is long gone. Since central bank gold is never independently audited, there is no independent confirmation of any of the gold that any central banks claim they have.

Gold receivables are another fiction that allows central banks to fly under the radar in the gold lending market, and central banks go to great lengths to make sure the market does not know the size and existence of outstanding gold lending and swapped gold positions.

In Febuary 1999, the BIS was again the nexus for secretive discussions about the gold market when a number of the large powerful central banks basically ordered the IMF to drop an accounting change that would have split out gold and gold receivables into two separate line items on central bank balance sheets and accounting statements. These discussions are documented in the IMF document which is available to see here.

This accounting change would have shone a light on to the scale of central bank gold lending around the world, information which would have moved gold prices far higher.

However, a group of the large central banks in Europe comprising the Bank of England, the Bundesbank, the Bank de France and the European Central Bank (ECB) applied pressure to torpedo this plan as they said that “information on gold loans and swaps was highly market sensitive” and that the IMF should “not require the separate disclosure of such information but should instead treat all monetary gold assets including gold on loan or subject to swap agreements, as a single data item.” 

© Leonhard Foeger

Central banks also at times sell large quantities of gold, such as the Swiss gold sales in the early the 2000s, and the Bank of England gold sales in the late 1990s.While the details of such gold sales are always shrouded in secrecy, and the motivations may be varied, such as bullion bank bailouts or redistribution of holdings to other central banks, the impact of these gold sales announcements usually has a negative impact on the gold price. So gold sales announcements are another tactic that central banks use to at times keep the pressure on the price.

There are many examples of central bankers discussing interventions in the gold market. In July 1998, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the US Congress saying that “central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise.

In June 2005, William R. White of the BIS in Switzerland, said that one of the aims of central bank cooperation was to “joint efforts to influence asset prices (especially gold and foreign exchange) in circumstances where this might be thought useful.

In 2008, the BIS at its headquarters in Switzerland even stated in a presentation to central bankers that one of the services it offers is interventions in the gold market.

In 2011, one of the gold traders from the BIS even stated on his LinkedIn profile that one of his responsibilities was managing the liquidity for interventions. After this was published, he quickly changed his LinkedIn profile.

Ronan Manly is a precious metals expert at BullionStar based in Singapore

Source: Central banks manipulating & suppressing gold prices – industry expert to RT — RT Business News

Confirmed: Facebook’s Recent Algorithm Update Burying Right-Wing Sources, Boosting Left

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Press conference at the summit G8/G20 about new technologies - Deauville, France on May 26 2011 (Shutterstock)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Press conference at the summit G8/G20 about new technologies – Deauville, France on May 26 2011 (Shutterstock)

By George Upper

Facebook’s much-publicized demotion of publishers’ content in users’ news feeds has negatively impacted conservative-leaning publishers significantly more than liberal-leaning outlets, an analysis by The Western Journal has revealed.

Liberal publishers have gained about 2 percent more web traffic from Facebook than they were getting prior to the algorithm changes implemented in early February.

On the other hand, conservative publishers have lost an average of nearly 14 percent of their traffic from Facebook.

This algorithm change, intentional or not, has in effect censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world. This change has ramifications that, in the short-term, are causing conservative publishers to downsize or fold up completely, and in the long-term could swing elections in the United States and around the world toward liberal politicians and policies.

Facebook Algorithm Impact On Conservatives

Example: New York Post vs. New York Daily News

Case in point: Two rival publishers in New York City, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, are similar in many ways, except for their editorial slants. The Post is well-known as a right-leaning outlet, whereas the Daily News has an established left-leaning slant. For example, the Daily News recently ran a headline after the Parkland shooting that read, “Brave Florida survivors plan day of action for gun sanity and to call out ‘blood on hands’ of NRA puppets.”

Headlines like that garnered the Daily News a 24.18 percent increase in traffic from Facebook, while the right-leaning Post’s traffic dropped 11.44 percent in the same time period.

NY Post vs NY Daily News Facebook

 

These results are similar to the “surprisingly profound and partisan” findings of analysis conducted by The Outline. However, whereas The Outline analyzed user engagement on Facebook itself, The Western Journal looked at actual traffic driven to news websites by Facebook, which directly impacts revenue for these sites.

Why did Facebook make this change?

Campbell Brown, a former anchor on NBC and CNN who now leads Facebook’s news partnerships team, told attendees at a recent technology and publishing conference that Facebook would be censoring news publishers based on its own internal biases:

“This is not us stepping back from news. This is us changing our relationship with publishers and emphasizing something that Facebook has never done before: It’s having a point of view, and it’s leaning into quality news. … We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to to define what ‘quality news’ looks like and give that a boost.” (Emphasis added.)

Based on The Western Journal’s analysis — and an overwhelming amount of insider reports from new media publishers — it is clear that Facebook’s definition of “quality news” is news with a liberal slant.

RELATED: Huckabee Jokes He’s ‘Rushed To Cardiac Unit’ After Seeing Surprising CNN Report

Where does this data come from?

To conduct this evaluation, The Western Journal selected 50 publishers known to receive a significant amount of online traffic from Facebook. These publishers include traditional print or television outlets such as The Washington Post, CNN and Fox News, as well as new media outlets like Salon, Vox and The Daily Caller. (The full list of publishers appears in the chart below.)

The Western Journal then assigned each publisher a number between 0 and 100 based on Media Bias / Fact Check News, a third party website that analyzes publishers for political bias and places them on a continuum between “extreme left” and “extreme right.”

Next, The Western Journal checked the monthly Facebook traffic for each of these sources using data from global digital market intelligence company SimilarWeb and compared January traffic to traffic from Feb. 4 through Mar. 3, adjusted for the slightly shorter time period. According to available internal data, Facebook began rolling out this major algorithm change on Feb. 6.

The results: Conservative publishers negatively impacted

The 25 on the liberal side of the scale averaged a 1.86 percent boost in traffic from Facebook, whereas the 25 news organizations on the conservative side averaged a 13.71 percent decrease in traffic.

Based on this analysis, it is clear that liberal news sites are being promoted in Facebook users’ news feeds more often than conservative sites.

Facebook Algorithm Impact On Conservatives

After removing the 15 publishers with the least traffic from Facebook, the trend becomes even more clear.

Of the remaining 35 news sources, the 12 most liberal sites averaged a boost of 0.21 percent — in other words, they don’t appear to have been affected in any meaningful way.

The 11 sites in the middle — which ranged from “left-center” to “least biased” on the MBFC News scale — saw a significant increase in Facebook traffic of 12.81 percent.

The 12 most conservatives sites lost an average of 27.06 percent of their traffic from Facebook.

Of the 12 most liberal sites, six saw double-digit decreases in traffic, while four saw double-digit increases and two — The Washington Post and HuffPo — saw single-digit increases. CNN’s traffic increased 43.78 percent.

Of the 11 sites in the middle of the scale, nine saw traffic increase. Only two — CBS News and The Atlantic — saw a traffic decrease.

Among those 11, only two — USA Today and The Economist — can truly be considered centrist according to the MSFC News scale. Their traffic increased by 23.16 percent and 1.12 percent, respectively.

Of the 12 most conservative sites, only two benefited from increased Facebook traffic — the Daily Mail with 3.51 percent and Fox News with 31.67 percent.

The other 10 saw decreases ranging from 3.13 percent at Breitbart to a whopping 76.49 percent at Independent Journal Review.  On Feb. 15, IJR announced significant layoffs to an “already skeletal staff,” The Daily Caller reported. Rare, a conservative leaning news media publication owned by Cox Media Group, experienced a 68.7 percent drop in traffic after the algorithm change. Rare will shut down entirely at the end of the month, Axios reported.

The average impact per news site with the most desktop sessions from Facebook also varied significantly depending on the political leaning of the site.

Facebook Algorithm Crushing Conservative News

Fox News was the only conservative site that saw significant growth in this calculation. If Fox were removed from the group of 12 conservative sites shown above, the average drop would grow to 32.4 percent among the remaining 11.

Facebook’s Response

It is, of course, possible that the benefit to liberals sites and the harm to conservatives is unintentional, a side effect of Facebook’s well-known “move fast, break things” attitude. Given Facebook’s history of manually suppressing conservative news, and given recent Facebook comments acknowledging that Facebook will have a point of view, it would not be surprising if this move was an intentional break with the formerly stated goal to be a neutral platform.

“How this manifests in the coming months is not totally clear to us right now,” Campbell admitted at the Recode event. “These are conversations we’ve just started having with a lot of publishers. But in terms of us taking a big step in that direction, I think, yes, I think this is, I think this is us having a very clear point of view.”

Facebook has not responded to a request for comment submitted by The Western Journal last week.

For the full data set, visit this public Google Sheet.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to The Outline as The Outlet. I have corrected the error, which was completely my fault, and apologize for the oversight. – G.)

Source: Western Journal

$21 trillion of unauthorized spending by US govt discovered by economics professor

From 16 Dec, 2017: “The US government may have misspent $21 trillion, a professor at Michigan State University has found. Papers supporting the study briefly went missing just as an audit was announced.”
$21 trillion of unauthorized spending by US govt discovered by economics professor
© Lee Jae Won © Reuters

The professor would not suggest whether the missing trillions went to some legitimate undisclosed projects, wasted or misappropriated, but believes his find indicates that there is something profoundly wrong with the budgeting process in the US federal government. Such lack of transparency goes against the due process of authorizing federal spending through the US Congress, he said.

Interestingly, in early December the authors of the research discovered that the links to key document they used, including the 2016 report, had been disabled. Days later the documents were reposted under different addresses, they say…”

Full story: $21 trillion of unauthorized spending by US govt discovered by economics professor — RT News

$21 trillion of unauthorized spending by US govt discovered

© Lee Jae Won / Reuters
The US government may have misspent $21 trillion, a professor at Michigan State University has found. Papers supporting the study briefly went missing just as an audit was announced.

Two departments of the US federal government may have spent as much as $21 trillion on things they can’t account for between 1998 and 2015. At least that’s what Mark Skidmore, a Professor of Economics at MSU specializing in public finance, and his team have found.

They came up with the figure after digging the websites of departments of Defense (DoD) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as repots of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) over summer.

The research was triggered by Skidmore hearing Catherine Austin Fitts, a former Assistant Secretary in the HUD in the first Bush administration, saying the Inspector General found $6.5 trillion worth of military spending that the DoD couldn’t account for. She was referring to a July 2016 report by the OIG, but Skidmore thought she must be mistaking billion for trillion. Based on his previous experience with public finances, he thought the figure was too big even for an organization as large as the US military.

“Sometimes you have an adjustment just because you don’t have adequate transactions… so an auditor would just recede. Usually it’s just a small portion of authorized spending, maybe one percent at most. So for the Army one percent would be $1.2 billion of transactions that you just can’t account for,” he explained in an interview with USAWatchdog.com earlier this month.

After discovering that the figure was accurate, he and Fitts collaborated with a pair of graduate students to comb through thousands of reports of the OIG dating back to 1998, when new rules of public accountability for the federal government were set and all the way to 2015, the time of the latest reports available at the time. The research was only for the DoD and the HUD.

“This is incomplete, but we have found $21 trillion in adjustments over that period. The biggest chunk is for the Army. We were able to find 13 of the 17 years and we found about $11.5 trillion just for the Army,” Skidmore said.

The professor would not suggest whether the missing trillions went to some legitimate undisclosed projects, wasted or misappropriated, but believes his find indicates that there is something profoundly wrong with the budgeting process in the US federal government. Such lack of transparency goes against the due process of authorizing federal spending through the US Congress, he said.

Skidmore also co-authored a column on Forbes, explaining his research.

The same week the interview took place the DoD announced that it will conduct its first-ever audit“It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DoD’s management of every taxpayer dollar,” Comptroller David Norquist told reporters as he explained that the OIG has hired independent auditors to dig through the military finances.

“While we can’t know for sure what role our efforts to compile original government documents and share them with the public has played, we believe it may have made a difference,” Skidmore commented.

Interestingly, in early December the authors of the research discovered that the links to key document they used, including the 2016 report, had been disabled. Days later the documents were reposted under different addresses, they say.

Source: $21 trillion of unauthorized spending by US govt discovered by economics professor