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  • Writer's pictureLeRoy Cossette

Disgusting Waste of Tax Dollars

The federal government dropped $3.3 billion on new office furniture as the vast majority of its employees worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a watchdog report exclusively obtained by The Post shows.


Between 2020 and 2022, federal agencies spent more than $1 billion per year on the plush decor — a rate consistent with pre-pandemic levels despite departments filling just a quarter of their available office space on average.


The taxpayer watchdog OpenTheBooks.com revealed the furniture splurge in a study published Tuesday, citing a Government Accountability Office report that found 17 of the 24 federal agencies are using as little as 9% and as much as 49% of their building capacities well into the fourth year of the pandemic.


The extravagant purchases included $237,960 on solar-powered picnic tables for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $120,000 on luxurious Ethan Allen leather recliners for the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.


The Environmental Protection Agency also shelled out $6.5 million for trendy furniture even as it downsized to move into a 300,000-square-foot office space at Four Penn Central in Philadelphia.


In one particularly “egregious example,” the group said the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation spent nearly $15 million on new furniture — or $14,400 for each of its 1,000 employees.


OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski said the audit highlights the need for closer scrutiny of federal spending as Congress considers further government funding in the coming weeks.


“As Congress continues to fight overspending, we want to make it clear that there are massive amounts of money being appropriated, spent, wasted and sometimes hidden from the taxpayer,” Andrzejewski told The Post.


“In the case of office furniture, most federal headquarters are barely a quarter full on a given workday, and no major agency is at more than half capacity. Yet for some reason we’ve bankrolled another billion dollars in desks, chairs, couches and more — while employees clock in from their own living rooms.”


The House and Senate passed appropriations bills to fund the government at current levels until Nov. 17 before long-term spending legislation must be considered.


House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) told The Post: “Excessive spending on luxurious furniture when more than half the federal workforce was teleworking is just symptomatic of a culture of wasteful spending that has plagued Washington, DC, for decades.”


“The ‘use it or lose it’ policy encourages unnecessary spending because agencies are penalized, instead [of] rewarded, for not spending all their end-of-year funds,” he added. “This is just one of the many perverse incentives that drive irresponsible spending in our nation’s Capital — and it has to stop.”


The Pentagon had the highest spending levels, with $1.2 billion in new furniture purchases, the group noted.


“The ‘use it or lose it’ policy encourages unnecessary spending because agencies are penalized, instead [of] rewarded, for not spending all their end-of-year funds,” he added. “This is just one of the many perverse incentives that drive irresponsible spending in our nation’s Capitol — and it has to stop.”


Other agencies’ spending levels included $428 million by the Department of Veteran Affairs, $408 million by the Justice Department, $308 million by the General Services Administration, $302 million by the State Department and $155 million by the Department of Homeland Security.


OpenTheBooks noted that the Defense Department’s furniture spending also remained higher than other agencies’ when accounting for pre-pandemic spending, with the Pentagon notching $2.1 billion in purchases between 2018 and 2022.

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