CFPB renovation costs increase again

Estimated renovation costs for the rented headquarters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have increased yet again, to approximately $215 million, according to a report from the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General Mark Bialek.

Estimated renovation costs for the rented headquarters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have increased yet again, to approximately $215 million, according to a report from the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General Mark Bialek.

That is $65 million more than was estimated six months ago, and $120 million more than last year’s number. The bureau originally projected a cost of $55 million for the renovations.

The current estimate would bring the cost of renovation to nearly $600 per square foot. That cost is higher than Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel and Casino ($330 per square foot) and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai ($450 per square foot), according to a statement from the House Financial Services Committee.

The building was appraised for $153.7 million in 2011, according to an audit report released by the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General in December 2013.

Bialek reviewed the budgeting process for the renovations in response to a request from Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

“The findings of the Inspector General’s investigation are deeply troubling and lead to even more questions about the unaccountable design of the CFPB,” McHenry said. “Coupled with recent accusations of discrimination and retaliation of employees by agency leaders, it has become abundantly clear that it’s not [the building] that needs an overhaul, but rather the entire structure of the CFPB.”

The increased number does include costs not previously accounted for, such as “swing space” and moving expenses, the report said.

However, the CFPB did not follow all of its internal protocols when seeking approval for the building renovation, the report found. Further, the bureau “was unable to locate any documentation of the decision to fully renovate the building” as of June 23.

“When they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, Democrats in Congress and the White House made the CFPB unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress,” said Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “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.”