Tags: | capitol | offices | moves | costs | taxpayers

Taxpayers Pick Up Tab for Lawmakers Wanting Office Upgrades

By    |   Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 08:18 AM

Some prime office spaces are opening up at the Capitol complex, and several members of Congress hope to move into those better digs, leaving taxpayers to pick up a tab that will likely come to more than a million dollars.

Similar moves in late 2012 cost taxpayers some $1.5 million, reports NBC affiliate WRC in Washington, D.C., and comes at the same time officials are setting up space for the more than 60 new congressional freshmen making their way to the nation's capitol.

The Architect of the Capitol's office, which oversees the complex, is supervising the moves, and the office shifts include a lottery system that determines which lawmaker gets first pick of the opening suites.

The office reported that in 2012, work crews moved 254 lawmakers to different office spaces following the elections that year, and in March 2014, the agency said it is trying to limit such expenses.

“What’s driving this is the senior members of Congress who want even bigger, fancier places to hang their hats,” said Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, who has spoken out against the practice. “That’s fine, but the taxpayers are the ones paying for it. They deserve to be consulted.”

Concerns over the moving costs are not new, reports The Washington Post, noting that back in 1994, The Chicago Tribune reported that there were calls even then to end the office shift that occurs every other year in Washington.

Then-Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford introduced a bill making Senate office spaces permanent, calling the "game of musical offices expensive, confusing, disruptive, and unnecessary."

Congressional staff worker Brad Fitch told WRC that most senior leaders want the office spaces that offer them shorter walks to hearing rooms and to the floors of the House and Senate.

“I can tell you it is a pain in the neck to move,” said Fitch, the chief executive officer of the Congressional Management Foundation. “It better be a good trade up, because the work the staff and the member have to do is significant.”

The work can take weeks to finish, as entire suites of office furniture and electronic equipment are moved. Lawmakers do keep their same office phone numbers, however.

The Architect of the Capitol’s office is in charge of several other projects at the Capitol, including ongoing renovations of the U.S. Capitol Dome and the Cannon House Office Building, reports WRC.

Not all congressmen are moving their offices. A spokesman for Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, for example, said that his staff has kept the same office for all six years and will only consider moving if "it helps us better serve the people of Virginia.”

But others, who WRC did not name, said they wanted to move to bigger offices that have better locations, including a Massachusetts Democrat who wanted more space for his staff and a Texas Republican who wanted a "nicer layout."

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Some prime office spaces are opening up at the Capitol complex, and several members of Congress hope to move into those better digs, leaving taxpayers to pick up a tab that will likely come to more than a million dollars.
capitol, offices, moves, costs, taxpayers
485
2014-18-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 08:18 AM
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