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Republican CFPB renovation numbers don't add up

The fine print in the price tag

money chained
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The expensive price tag on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s office renovations is receiving a lot of criticism from GOP members. The only problem is that they are working with incorrect numbers, according to an article in Businessweek.

A report from the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General shows that the cost of renovating the CFPB's rented headquarters has spiraled to more than $215 million – $65 million more than the agency’s estimate just six months ago and $120 million more than last year’s estimate.

It also equals more than $590 per square foot being renovated at the CFPB.  

Republicans argued that the CFPB is spending much more per square foot than it cost to build the Trump World Tower ($334/square foot) or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai ($450/square foot), according to congressional leaders critical of the CFPB’s unchecked spending.

But these numbers don’t add up, according to the article.  

The Republican figures inflate the total price by tacking on $70.7 million for costs such as hiring movers and renting temporary offices to use during the construction. Those expenses aren’t typically included in calculating construction costs, says Randolph Harrell, executive vice president at the brokerage CBRE. “But it is a real cost,” he says.

Even with all of that packed onto the price, though, the grand total would still only reach about $421 per square foot, well short of the GOP’s $590. A Financial Services Committee spokesman says their calculations use a smaller footprint for the renovation than the GSA, but that explanation doesn’t account for all of the extra $169 per square foot. At the overstated $421, the project actually would cost less per square foot than the Bellagio ($482) and Trump Tower ($448) if adjusted for inflation to make the numbers comparable—something the GOP estimate doesn’t do.

Source: Businessweek
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