Friday, September 25, 2015

Opulence at the EPA

A couple of articles have surface in the last couple of days about the fine folk at EPA, and how they spend your money:

EPA’s fondness for high-end furniture costs taxpayers $92 million
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
Six grand ought to buy a lot of office furniture . . .
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.
In it's defense, the EPA blame Congress for giving it so much space to fill. . .
 “EPA takes its fiscal responsibility seriously. As a result of GSA leases expiring, numerous EPA offices were required to move or consolidate space between 2000 and 2014. New furniture purchases provided the agency the opportunity to obtain space efficiencies,” the agency said.
And you know that furniture isn't being distributed evenly. For every one high muckety muck with fancy office furniture, there are probably 10 or more cube troglodytes with an old stinky chair, a plain desk and a filing cabinet that dates back to WWII. And that brings us to this one:

EPA Official Flew Home Every Weekend on Taxpayer’s Dime
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official flew nearly every weekend from his office in San Francisco to his home in southern California, amassing $69,000 in “excessive trips,” according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). A new audit found that the former Region 9 Administrator also charged taxpayers nearly $4,000 for ineligible travel costs, as the official made 88 trips that he said were work related in just three years.

“The former Region 9 Administrator made excessive trips to Southern California and claimed ineligible travel costs,” the OIG said. “He made 88 trips in total from October 2006 through January 2009. For 51 of the 88 trips (58 percent), the former Region 9 Administrator traveled to Orange County/Los Angeles County (OC/LA), California, near the former Region 9 Administrator’s residence, at a cost of approximately $69,000.”

The former official lived in Aliso Viejo, Calif., in Orange Country, though he mainly worked out of the Region 9 headquarters in San Francisco. The audit found that the official “traveled almost every weekend” to Orange County.
. . .
The official also claimed meal and mileage expenses while he was home. The OIG noted that junior employees were responsible for approving his travel and questioned whether “subordinates would adequately review their supervisor’s travel.”
Now there's a carbon footprint for you. You could move a little closer to your job, you know. That's what "normal" people do.

I'm sure this is not a novel thought, but the Federal government's bureaucrats have become analogous to the church of the middle ages, quite rich and powerful in the real world, but with very little accountability to people they nominally serve. They have a sense of entitlement that come from their belief that they are "doing good" The simile is particularly apt for the EPA, as most of them are "true believers" in the cult of environmentalism (as it applies to everybody but themselves) and feel that they are "saving the world" with expensive regulations, the result of which might be to stop 0.03 C of global warming over the next century.

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