Taxpayers Eat $120 Million Over Budget for CFPB
Policy + Politics

Taxpayers Eat $120 Million Over Budget for CFPB

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The agency charged with protecting consumers from being duped by greedy financial institutions has just ripped off the American people.

Following other legendary examples of federal agencies, taxpayers are once again being taken for a ride. Here’s how it works.

When the federal government breaks ground on a project, there’s a good chance that schedule delays and management problems will follow closely behind.

Whether it’s an agency headquarters, a massive IT undertaking, or a random parking garage, the government has a history of project management troubles—which usually come at taxpayers’ expense.

Related: 5 Government Projects That Are Costing Us Billions

The latest troubled project is the renovation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, which has already soared $120 million over budget.

As detailed in a new report by the Inspector General for the Board of Governors—which oversees the CFPB—the project is now expected to cost at least $215 million. That includes $145.1 million for construction and $70.7 million for architect-engineering fees, rent for temporary housing, moving costs and other expenses. IG Mark Bialek said the CFPB ignored agency procedures to secure funding approval and concluded that there is “no sound basis” to support the renovation project.

The auditor also said the agency was “unable to locate any documentation” for the project.

The report was released by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which has previously been critical of the agency’s renovation project. The committee has questioned why the agency is doing renovations on a rented building.

Republicans, who have long opposed the CFPB’s very existence, were quick to jump on the IG’s findings. They pointed out that the new total will work out to about $590 per square foot—well above the $334 per square foot cost of the Trump World Tower, and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, which cost $330 per square foot.

In a statement, chairman McHenry likened the CFPB’s failure to produce project documentation with the IRS losing potentially incriminating emails.

“When they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, Democrats in Congress and the White House made the CFPB unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said in a statement. "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.”

Still, the cost of the CFPB’s headquarters is well below the ballooning cost of the Department of Homeland Security’s new building—which is already running $1.5 billion over budget and 11 years behind schedule.

Check out other problem-plagued government projects costing billions here.

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