© D.L. Crumbley
An Oct. 14, 2002, New York Times article by Joel Brinkley stated that “auditors studying the financial records of federal government departments find may of them so disorganized, even chaotic, that the agencies cannot account for tens of billion of dollars.” So how did the agencies make their books balance? Through the magic of top-side balancing entries.
The Forest Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tried to balance its books at the end of the 2001 fiscal year. It booked more than 15,337 adjusting entries, debits, and credits totaling more than $11 billion gross. Auditors determined that 73 percent of these adjustments, totaling $7.9 billion, were unsupported.
The U.S. Department of Defense alone entered an unsubstantiated balance adjustment totaling $1.1 trillion in 2000, down from $2.3 trillion the prior year.
Source: Scott Green, “Fighting Financial Reporting Fraud,” Internal Auditor, December 2003, pp. 58-65.
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