Leadership: What Cannot Be Seen Cannot Be Trusted

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October 26, 2013: Despite Russian efforts to curb corruption in the military, the government has been increasing the degree to which items in the defense budget are classified and not available for public examination. Such secrecy has long been the rule in Russia, but much of the secrecy was abandoned when the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Since the late 1990s, the secrecy has been returning. For example, this year 52 percent (by dollar amount) of the defense budget details are classified and next year that goes up to 59 percent. In contrast only 8 percent of the American defense budget details are classified.

Many countries declare all defense related matters state secrets, and thus there is little monitoring of what is bought, from whom, and at what price. This is a perfect environment for thieving officials. It turns out that there is more corruption, or gross mismanagement, in secret defense spending than in those budget items that are unclassified. Most governments (85 percent by one count) do not allow much access to what is going on with the defense budget. Can’t let the enemy know how much is being stolen now, can we. The secrecy isn’t so much to protect the taxpayers as it is to hide the corruption.

 

 


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