Feds splurged on $3.3 billion in office furniture while most employees worked at home during COVID pandemic

Federal agencies splurged on an eye-popping $3.3 billion in new office furniture during the COVID pandemic, a time when most government employees were working from home.

The shocking details of the reckless spending were revealed in a bombshell new report by taxpayer watchdog OpenTheBooks which reviewed a recent Government Accountability Office report on the underutilization of federal buildings due to increased telework.

Among the furniture items purchased by bureaucrats spending like drunken sailors was $237,960 on solar-powered picnic tables bought by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and $120,000 for new Ethan Allen leather recliners purchased by the State Department for the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“As Congress fights overspending, we want to show that members are appropriating, wasting and sometimes hiding massive amounts of money from the taxpayers,” the watchdog stated in its report.

“The feds spent $26 million on furniture for their conference rooms, while their meetings were held on ZOOM. Spending included $700,000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for their New York regional office conference room,” according to OpenTheBooks.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent $6.5 million on “high end furniture” when it moved from its 300,000-square-foot office in Philadelphia to a smaller office space, taking advantage of the opportunity to upsize the furniture despite downsizing the building.

Additional high-dollar furniture items that federal agencies treated themselves to on the taxpayer dime were $284,000 in Herman Miller furniture items its headquarters conference center shelled out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $250,000 for a conference room “refresh” by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The biggest spendthrift was the federally chartered corporation, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation which treated itself to a jaw-dropping $14.4 million in new furniture or $14,400 for each of its 1,000 employees.

“As Congress continues to fight over spending, we want to make it clear that there are massive amounts of money being appropriated, spent, wasted and sometimes hidden from the taxpayer,” OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski told the New York 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,” he said. “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.”

“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,” House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) told the New York Post.

“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,” Arrington added. “This is just one of the many perverse incentives that drive irresponsible spending in our nation’s Capitol — and it has to stop.”


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