Pentagon war cost estimates unreliable.
* Congress has for years been fighting the Pentagon over war costs.
A major point of contention has been the Defense Department's
insistence that war expenses for Iraq and Afghanistan operations be
approved outside the regular budget process. These so-called emergency
supplementals have increased from $14 billion for fiscal year 2002 to
$189 billion for 2008. Critics question why, six years into the wars,
the Pentagon refuses to estimate costs in the regular budget. The answer
may be that the Pentagon can't be sure its estimates are accurate
because it lacks an integrated accounting system to gauge the cost of
operations, says the Government Accountability Office. The Defense
Department requires military agencies to use a 10-year-old accounting
system called the Contingency Operations Support Tool to develop cost
estimates for combat deployments. But GAO says that system was designed
for smaller contingency operations, such as peacekeeping and disaster
relief, not necessarily for large-scale wars such as Iraq and