Things change. Even assumptions. When assumptions change - assumptions about interest rates, discount rates, actuarial projections, and the like - other things change as a result.It was the war in Iraq that indirectly brought the issue to light. To the surprise of the U.S. Treasury, the extent of the U.S. military's costs for pensions, other post-employment benefits, and health care costs associated with the Veterans Administration appeared to be lower in 2006 than in 2005, despite an ongoing war.

"Everyone was saying, 'No, that's not what we expect,'" said Tom Allen, chairman of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. "We had the war, a lot more people injured, a lot more troops and everything else. It didn't make sense."

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