WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican attorneys general have repeatedly pressed for oversight and accountability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Unfortunately, for hard-working American taxpayers, former Director Richard Cordray resisted them at every turn.
As Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asserted last year, “Mr. Cordray has become the poster child for bureaucrats behaving badly.” The evidence continues to pile up; The Daily Caller takes Cordray to task for “ballooning renovation costs” at their new CFPB headquarters.
What’s worse, as Steve Dettelbach — a Democratic candidate for attorney general — told cleveland.com last year, he is not a fan of holding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountable.
A New CFPB Scandal – Cost Overruns for Its New Lux Headquarters
The Daily Caller
January 7, 2018
Renovation costs for the brand new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters have skyrocketed, posting 25 percent in cost overruns — significantly above the original budget set by the General Services Administration, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
Original cost estimates for the CFPB’s renovation were estimated at $55 million, but thebureau ran up the proposed cost to $216 million. The Federal Reserve Inspector General rejected the proposal in 2014, saying there was no “sound basis” for the figure.
As the CFPB renovation costs continued to escalate, renovation was taken out of the CFPB’s hands and transferred to the General Services Administration(GSA). GSA’s budget, however, was nearly twice the original $55 million, hitting $99 million.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told theDCNF about the “excesses” he saw within the new building on his first day as acting director of the CFPB.
Ballooning renovation costs for luxurious perks is only one of a number of high-profile controversies that beset the agency created under President Barack Obama. They include cases of widespread gender, racial and ethnic employment discrimination, massive data mining of 42 billion credit card transactions by consumers, and a history of bullying corporations into turning over millions in dubious settlement cases.
When Obama and and then Treasury Department official Elizabeth Warren founded the CFPB in 2011, they instituted many protections to insulate the bureau from congressional oversight, including congressional budget authority over expenditures.
“Unfortunately, reports of massive cost overruns at the CFPB surprises no one,” he told TheDCNF in an email. “This unaccountable agency’s lavish spending is a prime example of how unelected bureaucrats in the swamp will spend money without common sense Congressional oversight,” he told TheDCNF in an email.
Mulvaney noted the lack of oversight and vowed to make the CFPB more acountable.
“My objective in managing this agency is to make it more accountable, efficient, and effective in fulfilling its statutory obligations,” Mulvaney told TheDCNF. “Because Congress does not control the Bureau’s budget through appropriations, we are left to budget ourselves without oversight, and every dollar we draw from the Federal Reserve is one less dollar available to pay down the deficit.”
CFPB’s employees now come to work in a building that features many high-end touches, including lounge seats for their plaza deck, sunken garden areas, male and female fitness rooms, and credenzas with quartz surfaces and premium drywall. The CFPB spent $88,000 for bike racks and parking striping in the garage, according to the the GSA’s “Construction Progress Report” dated June 30, 2017.
The $124 million figure translates to about $416 per square foot for the 303,000 square foot, six-flight office building. That cost makes the CFPB building among the top 10 most expensive office buildings in Washington, D.C., for 2016 to 2017, according to the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, a public-private partnership with the District government.
Citing the rebuilding of the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams told TheDCNF that the government has the ability to hold down construction costs.
“The federal government, when they want to build something or re-build something, they have the power to do it,” he said. “Look at the Pentagon after 9/11. They rebuilt that under budget and ahead of schedule.”
The rebuilding of the Pentagon, called the Phoenix Project, exceeded the federal government’s expectations. The construction was completed a month earlier than planned and cost $501 million, a significant reduction from the original $700 million price tag.
The cost overruns happened “because there were no repercussions for GSA, for the CFPB for anybody,” Williams told TheDCNF in an interview. “The only repercussions were for taxpayers.”
Read the full article here.