Michael Krieger | Posted Monday Sep 28, 2015 at 12:58 pm
Open the Books
is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization laser focused on providing transparency in government. I’ve highlighted their work
in the past, but their latest report on inexcusable EPA waste and abuse may be the most outrageous information yet. Specifically, we learn that the EPA spent $92.5 million of taxpayer money on high-end, luxury furniture over the past decade.
The federal agency that has the job of protecting the environment doesn’t seem to have too much concern for trees, at least the ones cut down to make furniture.
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
And the EPA
doesn’t buy just any old office furniture. Most of the agency
’s contracts are with Michigan-based retailer Herman Miller Inc. According to the contracts, the EPA spent $48.4 million on furnishings from the retailer known for its high-end, modern furniture designs.
Just one of Herman Miller’s "Aeron" office chairs retails for nearly $730 on the store’s website. The EPA
has spent tens of thousands of dollars to purchase and install those types of chairs in its offices.
also paid another high-end retailer, Knoll Inc., nearly $5 million for furnishings. Knoll is known for its specialized modern furnishings, and 40 of its designs are on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The EPA defended its spending, saying the agency needed the furniture after it moved buildings.
Ever heard of IKEA?
’s problem is not new. In 2003, an internal report by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility warned the agency
to cut back on spending for fancy furniture.
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.
But the contracts didn’t cover only new furniture. The EPA
spent big money to move and store its fancy chairs and desks as well.
In one example, the agency paid $73,265 to move the furniture out of an Ann Arbor, Michigan, office just to replace the carpeting.
"It’s difficult to conceive how merely moving furniture out of an office to recarpet it could cost over $73,000. That looks like enough to furnish an entire office, not just shuffle around the furnishings already there," Mr. Sepp said.
It’s not difficult to conceive when you recognize the government views citizens as milk cows.
The revelations of the EPA
’s furniture purchases are the latest in a string of reports on the agency
Last year, internal emails surfaced from a regional EPA office asking employees to please stop defecating in the hallways.
Those emails followed reports that workers in an Alaska EPA
office were caught watching porn at work and another employee at the Washington headquarters posed as a CIA agent.
That same year, a high-level EPA official admitted he stole nearly $900,000 from the government by pretending to work for the CIA in order to skip work for long stretches of time.
"It is not a shock that the same agency
which failed to realize that their top paid employee was a no-show for years, even giving him performance bonuses while he didn’t work, is indulging in high-end office furniture. Apparently at the EPA
, you need a $750 chair to hide the fact that no one is sitting in it," said Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.
Can’t. Make. This. Up.
Of course, should we really be surprised. Just earlier today, I published the following:
When there’s zero accountability, it’s open season on citizens.
Open the Books
will be releasing the full EPA report within the next two weeks. I suggest checking in with them periodically.