Amid ongoing investigations of employee discrimination, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has also come under fire for “outrageous” costs associated with the renovation of its rented headquarters.
The agency has spent more than $215 million on the renovations — $65 million more than the agency’s estimate just six months ago and $120 million more than last year’s estimate, according to a report released by the Office of the Inspector General.
This figure amounts to more than $590 per square foot, meaning that the CFPB is spending significantly more per square foot than it cost to build the Trump World Tower ($334 per square foot) and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino ($330 per square foot).
The renovation project has been mired in controversy, the OIG says in a written statement.
“For more than a year, members of the House Financial Services Committee have questioned CFPB officials about its rising cost, about why an agency that is renting a building is paying for renovations in the first place, and the extravagance of such features as a four-story glass staircase, two-story waterfall and sunken garden,” the statement says.
On Oct. 1, 2011, the CFPB moved into the building, leasing the space from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. A year prior, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was enacted, which some say is to blame for the CFPB’s unrestricted spending. The act established the CFPB as an independent bureau within, but autonomous from, the Federal Reserve System.
“When they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, Democrats in Congress and the White House made the CFPB unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress. We’re seeing the results of this dangerous unaccountability today in a Washington bureaucracy that is running amok, spending as much as it wants on whatever it wants. It’s outrageous,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling in a written release by the OIG.
To read the full OIG report, click here.
Written by Emily Study