Agree, the things we (at least in the USA) waste money on is astounding. We do it not only in government, DoD, but also the private sector. We've all seen individual people or entire divisions and ask ourselves "why are these people getting paid so much for doing so little?", and we stare at superficial 'constructions' such as a new "welcome to [insert city name]" sign that probably cost $100K to make and install. All the while, brilliant ideas that could be funded with 1/4 of these budgets are abondoned/neglected.
To me a lot of it stems from very weak leadership. "Leaders", from CEO's/top-gov't echelons down to the lowest supervisors who are afraid to do anything but keep pushing the same old rock forward to ensure self-preservation. I'd argue the cumulative affect of weak lower-tier supervision is perhaps more harmful than weak higher-level leadership, although ensuring strong leadership at low levels is the ultimate responsibility of higher-level leaders.
God forbid we take a risk and fail and stock price takes a hit. God forbid we hurt someone's feelings and cut their salary to match their actual contribution. We, as a society, are not doing a very good job of prioritizing the work that matters.
Wasted resources (most importantly, time) are the hallmark of fearful leaders.