The CFPB has attracted scrutiny from Republican congressmen and conservative watchdogs over its headquarters renovation. The cost of the project has grown to $139 million; the bureau projected a cost of $55 million when the project began. Now, the Washington Examiner and Judicial Watch want to know what’s creating that price tag. They filed a civil complaint against the CFPB under the federal Freedom of Information Act on March 19.
Over the course of several months, the CFPB notified the Washington Examiner that it had located a total of 350 pages responsive to the publication’s FOIA request. Then the CFPB saidit was withholding 335 of the 350 pages. The documents it released are heavily redacted, according to the Washington Examiner.
The CFPB has paid $9.3 million to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based architectural firm, for its work on the renovation. The firm’s design gives the project a “lobby and courtyard concept design” and includes a 180,000-square-foot basement. The projected renovation cost is now $483 per square foot, which is triple the typical Washington, D.C., luxury commercial class renovation rate of $150 per square foot.
“Documents to explain why a government bureau is spending so lavishly on renovations to its headquarters are exactly the kind of information the FOIA is meant to make available to taxpayers,” said Mark Tapscott, executive editor for the Examiner. “We shouldn’t have to go to court to get them, but it’s important to make the point that the American people have just as much of a right to know what CFPB is doing with their tax dollars as they do their local dogcatchers.”
Judicial Watch is representing the Examiner in the suit.