The federal agency that has the job of protecting the environment doesn’t seem to have too much concern for trees, at least the ones cut down to make furniture.
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 OpenTheBooks.com.
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.
The agency also paid another high-end retailer, Knoll Inc., nearly $5 million for furnishings. Knoll is known for its specialized modern furnishings, and 40 of its designs are on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“While private companies and citizens face more and more hardship from government regulation, the EPA literally sits in the easy chair,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of OpenTheBooks.com. “The EPA can’t relate to the financial hardships regular Americans face. It’s Herman Miller furniture for the bureaucrats, but Ikea for the taxpayers.”
For spending tens of millions of dollars to furnish federal buildings like Wall Street hedge fund offices at taxpayers’ expense, the EPA wins this week’s Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction awarded by The Washington Times highlighting the most egregious examples of wasteful federal spending.
“Apparently the long arm of the regulatory state needs a lot of comfortable chairs and desks to rest its collective elbow on, and EPA’s ‘elbow-print’ is a big one,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union.