(GoRealNewsNow.com) – In a brand-new scandal involving vast sums of taxpayer money, a nonprofit watchdog has disclosed that the US government squandered $3.3 billion to buy furniture during the COVID-19 pandemic while many of its employees worked remotely at home.
Even though federal departments used only about a quarter of their office space on average between 2020 and 2022, they kept up their pre-pandemic furniture spending of over $1 billion per year, reveals a report by OpenTheBooks, a Chicago-based watchdog, cited by The New York Post.
The highest furniture spending during the pandemic was the US Defense Department, with $1.2 billion spent on new purchases, according to the nonprofit’s data.
It was followed by the Department of Veteran Affairs, whose office furniture expenses amounted to $428 million, the Justice Department with $408 million spent, the General Services Administration, which paid $308 million, the State Department with $302 million, and the Department of Homeland Security which bought $155 million worth of furniture.
Citing a report by the Governor Accountability Office (GAO), OpenTheBooks stresses that even today, during the fourth pandemic year, 17 of the 24 federal agencies are using between 9% and 49% of their building capacities.
The Post notes that some of the most “extravagant purchases” in question include spending $237,960 on “solar-powered picnic tables” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and paying $120,000 for “luxurious Ethan Allen leather recliners” for the US Embassy in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency doled out $6.5 million for “trendy furniture” despite downsizing its office space.
Another highly “egregious example” of spending saw the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation pay nearly $15 million on furniture or roughly $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 stated.
“In the case of office furniture, most federal headquarters are barely a quarter full on a given workday… 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,” he elaborated.
House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) slammed the “excessive spending on luxurious furniture,” blaming a “use it or lose it” policy of agency funding.