The black budget is a secret budget for covert operation. How can the U.S. government ensure that the money is spent appropriately and people don't spend it for personal reasons or other reasons not related to national security or protects the national interests of the country.

  • 12
    The whole point of doing things off the books is to avoid oversight, so the question answers itself, IMO.
    – Pete W
    Jun 21, 2021 at 15:20
  • You may want to read about the Church Committee, if you haven't en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Committee
    – llama
    Jun 21, 2021 at 16:24
  • 13
    They can't even ensure that the regular defense budget is spent appropriately! Jun 21, 2021 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


Such a budget will, inevitably, fall under an executive department, headed by either a Cabinet Secretary, or the President himself. The budget for that department is scrutinised by Congressional Committees.

Both the relevant Cabinet Secretary, and the senior members of the relevant Congressional Committees, are allowed to know about relevant classified information (including details of such operations), and to scrutinise in a way they see fit. They just have to keep this secret.

  • 5
    For this reason diverse agencies have black accounts which are not budgets and therefore are even further away from oversight
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 21, 2021 at 8:39
  • "scrutinise in a way they see fit" and what can they do if they don't like it, if they can't affect it due to secrecy?
    – vsz
    Jun 22, 2021 at 13:19
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    @vsz: The reviewers are often the people who allocate money into the budget. If it's misused, these reviewers can withhold money from that budget. Other reviewers are the people who manage the people who do the spending. If it's misused, these reviewers will fire the people who spent the money. The reviewers may also have authority to imprison abusers. Jun 22, 2021 at 16:50
  • @MooingDuck "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boland_Amendment" Pretty effective as the executive branch jumped through several dozen hoops to work-around this amendment; with an ensuing scandal.
    – paulj
    Jun 22, 2021 at 19:13

It can't and therefore doesn't.

Occasionally this comes to light. A large amount of money related to the rebuilding of Iraq was simply stolen.

  • 1
    ... and usually we find out about it years later when prosecuting anyone is hard, so at most one or two junior officials will be sent to jail, with the rest walking off scot free. Jun 21, 2021 at 13:00
  • 11
    I read that article and don't see any indication that was a black program. Yes, it was rife with FW&A, but not a black program. This doesn't answer the question. (or did I completely miss something?)
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 21, 2021 at 13:29
  • 7
    This answer seems like citing Enron to answer how corporate accounting can ensure proper oversight of a budget - one example of failure doesn't mean success is impossible. Yes, there are plenty of examples where budgets are not spent appropriately, but that is not an indication that oversight cannot be, or is not, done. It's hard to prove a negative that oversight cannot be done, but you certainly can't do it with one example. Jun 21, 2021 at 19:37

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