Tags: Money | HUD | millions | costs | employees

Politico: HUD Spent $2.9 Million on Worker Moving Costs

By    |   Monday, 15 Jun 2015 05:22 PM

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development set aside $5.5 million to help cover discretionary relocation costs for HUD workers.

According to the results of a Freedom of Information Act request by Politico, one HUD employee was given $102,000 to cover his move, which include $30,000 to offload his existing home and $18,000 to cover temporary housing.

That expense was part of $2.9 million that has been spent by the housing agency since early 2013 to relocate about 125 HUD workers, averaging about $23,000 per person.

The $5.5 million set aside for such expenses has gone toward items such as airline tickets and home sale expenses, including real estate commissions and title costs.

The amount that each federal agency has to cover such costs is set by the General Services Administration (GSA). Federal employees who need to move for their jobs are granted a 10 percent reimbursement of the purchase price of their home-sales expenses.

According to Politico, Republican lawmakers have already taken aim at HUD's $50 billion in annual spending, and this revelation just adds to it.

"When the taxpayers look at this they see the dysfunction of the federal government in very stark relief," Leslie Paige, vice president of policy and communications at the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, told Politico.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party and whose name has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has also disparaged the spending, Politico is reporting.

Castro was offered $14,000 to cover his moving expenses when he moved to Washington from Texas in 2014, but turned it down because he thought it was too much. HUD ended up reimbursing his relocation costs for about $4,700.

The HUD secretary addressed the issue at an event Politico hosted in December, in which he said that he is making an effort to reign in some of those expenses as well as make the process more transparent.

However, according to HUD staffers, it is not something Castro has total control over, since GSA decides what costs can be reimbursed. The rules laid out by GSA are then monitored by HUD's inspector general's office.

"These moves are allowed under government statutes and regulations, they are only done on an as-needed basis for the good of the agency, and are not inconsistent with other federal agencies," a HUD IG spokesperson told Politico.

The HUD spokesperson also said that part of the reason for the high moving costs in recent years was due to a decision by the agency to consolidate field offices for the sake of cutting costs in the agency overall.

The leftover $2.2 million that is supposed to go toward relocation costs is being rolled over into a fund to pay for any upcoming unexpected costs by the agency.

Such a maneuver has been criticized by government watchdog groups, who say such funds are typically wasteful and not closely watched.

"This is something that Congress should get its nose involved in," Paige told Politico.

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development set aside $5.5 million to help cover discretionary relocation costs for HUD workers.
HUD, millions, costs, employees
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2015-22-15
Monday, 15 Jun 2015 05:22 PM
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