According to a report from the BBC the War on Terror has operated with a remarkably low level of loss to theft, accounting errors and waste of less than 1% since the start of conflict in Afghanistan; a level of spending efficiency which any successful business would be proud of. Out of a total expenditure for the War on Terror which currently runs almost $600 million a year, and has likely cost more than $2 trillion to date with more than another $2 trillion to come in the next 10 years, so far only a remarkably tiny $23 billion has gone missing, mostly in the hands of inefficient or corrupt local and international contractors.
Within the United States, the average level of corporate loss to retail businesses from theft, wastage and other causes is 1.7%, almost double the level of loss reported for governmental efforts in the War on Terror. This totals up to $46 billion annually, which adds up to more than 15 times the annual cost of loss and waste in the War on Terror. For another comparison, the federal budget is over $2.9 billion a year, of which Medicaid and Medicare account for about $600 billion a year. Those programs run at a loss rate from fraud and error as high as $220 billion a year, averaging about a 20% loss rate out of their budget. That's about 20 times more fraud and theft of taxpayer funds every year than we've seen in the entire War on Terror.
Since the summer of 2007, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been trying to draw attention to this situation, holding hearings on some of the ways in which money has been spent in Iraq, and looking into issues of theft and waste; presumably in an effort to bring other government programs up to the same extraordinarily high standard of efficiency, and perhaps providing some government contractors like Halliburton with medals or other certificates of recognition in a nice public ceremony.
Fun with numbers.
For a different view of this issue see this article from Eurocritics Magazine.