UPDATE: Interior Dept. spending nearly $139,000 on doors for Ryan Zinke's office
By Mike Murphy
Zinke's expenses have come under fire, even as he backs cutting wasteful spending
The U.S. Interior Department is spending almost $139,000 on new office doors for Secretary Ryan Zinke, according to public records.
The Associated Press first reported (https://www.apnews.com/fe6edd739fff49d3a8e56324f7cc9721)the expenditure, which it said was for three sets of double doors in Zinke's office.
According to records posted online (https://www.usaspending.gov/#/award/5381101), the project -- described as "Secretary's Door" -- cost $138,670, and are to carried out by a Maryland company called Conquest Solutions. The company's website (https://www.conquest-solutions.com/)says it specializes in building automation systems. According to government records, Conquest Solutions was the only company to bid for the job.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, a high-end door should cost about $4,200 (https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/doors-and-windows/install-a-door/).
A spokeswoman for Zinke told the Associated Press that the cost of the doors was news to her, and the work was requested by career staffers as part of a building modernization effort. While she said the price sounded high, she said historic preservation requirements and new locks raised the cost, the AP reported.
While the records said the work was completed in November, Zinke's spokeswoman told the AP that the doors will not be installed until this summer. One official told the AP that the project had been planned for nearly two years.
Since he took office, Zinke's spending at taxpayers' expense has been criticized. Last year, Zinke spent tens of thousands of dollars on charter flights, which sparked a probe (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/zinkes-travel-under-investigation-by-interior-watchdog-2017-10-02)by the Interior Department's inspector general's office. He was reportedly told in October that he was on pace to be $200,000 over his yearly travel budget, according to CNN (https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/27/politics/ryan-zinke-nra/index.html).
Meanwhile, Zinke has publicly supported (https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/president-proposes-117-billion-budget-interior-fy2018)cutting wasteful government spending and proposed slashing the department's staff by 4,000 workers.
The doors are just the latest pricey office furniture that members of the Trump administration have come under fire for. Last year, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruit reportedly spent almost $25,000 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/09/26/epa-spending-almost-25000-to-install-a-secure-phone-booth-for-scott-pruitt/?utm_term=.f71efb384027) to install a soundproof phone booth in his office and $9,000 on biometric locks (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/12/19/epa-chief-sweeps-office-bugs-installs-high-tech-locks/965315001/), and last week Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson canceled a $31,000 dining-room set (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ben-carson-says-31000-dining-room-set-for-hud-office-will-be-canceled-2018-03-01)for his office after questions were raised about it.
In September, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tom-price-out-as-hhs-secretary-after-private-jet-scandal-2017-09-29)after spending about $1 million in charter flights (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/price-says-hell-reimburse-taxpayers-stop-taking-private-charter-flights-2017-09-28) at taxpayers' expense.
-Mike Murphy; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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03-09-18 0244ETCopyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.