There’s already enough scandals the EPA’s involved in, from the new water rule to the Animas River disaster to the Volkswagen controversy Moe discussed yesterday. The agency has proven itself to be adept at finding ways to waste taxpayer money. This latest story only continues that habit, but to me, it stands out for its egregiousness. The EPA somehow managed to spend $92 million on luxury furniture. From the Washington Times:
The Environmental Protection Agency over the past decade has spent a whopping $92.4 million to purchase, rent, install and store office furniture ranging from fancy hickory chairs and a hexagonal wooden table, worth thousands of dollars each, to a simple drawer to store pencils that cost $813.57.
The furniture shopping sprees equaled about $6,000 for every one of the agency’s 15,492 employees, according to federal spending data made public by the government watchdog OpenTheBooks.com.
Among the high end retailers the EPA did business with are Herman Miller and Knoll, Inc. In the case of the former, the agency spent tens of thousands of dollars on the company’s $730 Aeron office chair.
The EPA argues that these expenses were necessary after moving to a new building. That’s a valid excuse for buying new furniture, but there are much cheaper options than the luxury furniture they bought. Surely, budget options exist for things like these:
Among the thousands of contracts for “household” and office furniture were a hexagonal table ($5,539), hickory chairs ($6,391), a “Galerie lounge chair” with “Galerie settee” ($2,641 for the set), and a pencil drawer ($813.57).
One of the contracts called for a “Herman Miller chair with adjustable arms, swivel, lumbar, caster and tilt,” costing $4,047.
As many problems as the government is facing with its budget, there’s even less excuse than usual for these purchases. I mean, who needs a pencil drawer that costs $814? You can get quality containers for those for 1 or 2% of that cost at a big box retailer. A quality office desk chair, even an executive type, can be found for far less than a tenth of the amount the agency paid for that last Herman Miller chair.
It’s proof that the agency has learned nothing from the past, but it should not be surprising. This is exactly the sort of thing that happens with massive bureaucracies that are, by nature, unaccountable to the public. If you want to see a case for smaller government , just look at the EPA. It has been beset by scandal after scandal, some that are actually damaging or ruining the environment and proposed countless economy strangling regulations, yet there have been no real consequences for those running the agency. Heads should be rolling after all we’ve heard about the agency even since the start of August.
It’s all well and good for the House of Representatives to hold hearings on these things, but when do we get to the point that there are real consequences for EPA bureaucrats? It’s time for Republicans on the Hill to take some real action on the matter, because it’s clear the Obama administration won’t.