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Politics & MoneyInvestments

Fed watchdog: CFPB headquarters’ renovation costs “reasonable”

Report says proper controls on spending in place

An audit released on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Inspector General regarding the controversial cost of renovating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new headquarters says that “construction costs are reasonable” and that controls for oversight are designed appropriately.

The report, entitled “CFPB Headquarters Construction Costs Appear Reasonable and Controls Are Designed Appropriately” can be read here.

“We are pleased that the report found that the construction costs for the bureau’s headquarters' renovation appear reasonable and that we have designed and implemented appropriate controls for approving, managing, and documenting renovation costs and project decisions,” says CFPB CFO Stephen Agostini, in the text of the report.

The CFPB’s $216 million renovation of a $150 million building that it is leasing has been a constant point of attack for conservatives in Congress for more than a year.

Last month, Senate Banking Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., raised concerns about the CFPB’s spending and the overall cost of renovating the CFPB headquarters.

“According to the Federal Reserve Inspector General, the estimated cost of actual renovation increased from $40 million in February of 2012 to $145 million in December of 2013 — this is over three-and-a-half times the initial estimate. The Inspector General estimated that the total cost is now closer to $216 million,” Shelby said. “Furthermore, the administration has yet to explain who approved the renovation and what happened to the documentation involved.”

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., has been a regular critic of the CFPB and the CFPB’s headquarters, and still wants to know who authorized the renovation.

“D.C .may be the only place on Earth where it is considered 'reasonable' for a federal bureaucracy to spend over $200 million to renovate a building it doesn't own — a full $50 million more than the building is worth. I doubt that my constituents back home, who are ultimately on the hook for this boondoggle, hold the same view,” Duffy told HousingWire. “For over a year now, this Committee has asked one simple question: who made the decision to renovate this building? CFPB says it was someone in the Treasury Department, but Treasury refuses to respond to our letter. The silence is deafening.”

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