Warren's CFPB spent lavishly on its new headquarters
It should come as no surprise the federal bureaucrats who are shielded from any accountability ran up costs for remodeling the office space for their new headquarters from a first estimate of $55 million to an eventual $124 million. They actually wanted to spend a total of $216 million until the adults stepped in.
Elizabeth Warren deliberately designed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to be insulated from congressional oversight by making it dependent on funding from the Federal Reserve System, which, you may remember, prints up (physically and digitally) our money and isn't dependent on congressional appropriations.
If someone handed me a blank check from the Federal Reserve and told me to remodel my house with it, I might find some awfully luxurious perks to add to the manse. That is human nature – something people like Warren cannot understand, it would seem.
Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller News Foundation describes the fiasco that came under adult supervision only too late.
The Federal Reserve Inspector General rejected the [$216-million] proposal in 2014, saying there was no "sound basis" for the figure.
As the CFPB renovation costs continued to escalate, renovation was taken out of the CFPB's hands and transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA). GSA's budget, however, was nearly twice the original $55 million, hitting $99 million.
That figure ballooned to more than $124 million, according to a June 30, 2017 GSA document obtained by TheDCNF under the Freedom of Information Act. The document was part of a release of "change orders" and "modifications" submitted by Grunley Construction, the Washington, D.C.-based general contractor selected by [the] GSA to renovate the CFPB building.
Even with the slimmed down GSA version, the costs of renovation exceeded the average cost of new office construction in the D.C. area:
The costs per foot also exceeded the average construction costs of $339 per square foot recorded for newly constructed Washington, D.C. office buildings in the second quarter of 2017.
Keep in mind that the CFPB chose the most desirable location for its HQ – right across the street from the White House. Are we supposed to believe that it was such a slum inside that renovations more expensive than new construction were necessary to meet the minimum standards of federal bureaucrats?
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Photographer: Payton Chung/Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.
Why not a nondescript suburban office park in Maryland or Virginia for an agency the republic was able to do without for 99% of its existence?
So what kind of expenses ran up the cost of housing the bureaucrats?
CFPB's employees now come to work in a building that features many high-end touches, including lounge seats for their plaza deck, sunken garden areas, male and female fitness rooms, and credenzas with quartz surfaces and premium drywall. The CFPB spent $88,000 for bike racks and parking striping in the garage, according to the the GSA's "Construction Progress Report" dated June 30, 2017.
There were other reasons for cost overruns, according to the report. Revising the original office layout cost nearly $1 million and a new mandatory wage increase for union labor under the Davis [Bacon] Act added an extra $240,000. Other unstated garage "upgrades" increased costs by an extra $1.9 million.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance president David Williams fully grasps the problem:
The cost overruns happened "because there were no repercussions for GSA, for the CFPB[,] for anybody," Williams told TheDCNF in an interview. "The only repercussions were for taxpayers."
If Senator Warren decides to run for president and faces Donald Trump seeking re-election, he will be able to make telling points about the structure she chose for CFPB guaranteeing waste and cost overruns. Do Americans really want federal bureaucrats working for a president who believes that the sky's the limit when it comes to spending on their perks?
Anyone who has read The Art of the Deal knows that Trump has been able to achieve luxury construction on a budget. Usually on time and under budget.