Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—which is due to expire at the end of this week unless an agreement in Washington is reached—has continued to rise under President Barack Obama. His administration claims the agency’s increased funding is necessary to protect the homeland, but records show that the DHS has continued to increase its spending on furniture and office makeovers as its budget has been increased.
A review of records on the official government spending website by the Washington Free Beacon shows the agency has spent nearly $150 million on office furniture and makeovers since Obama took office. Those fiscal years for which he has been responsible and whose budgets have been enacted are FY2010 through 2014.
"The FY 2015 Budget reflects the Administration’s strong commitment to protecting the homeland and the American people through the effective and efficient use of DHS resources, continuing the focus on preserving frontline priorities across the Department by cutting costs, sharing resources across Components, and streamlining operations wherever possible," the administration’s request states.
Each year under Obama the administration, DHS funding has increased. The FY 2015 budget request is $60.9 billion, compared with FY 2014’s budget of $60.7 billion. In fiscal year 2013, the DHS budget was $59.2 billion. By contrast, President George W. Bush’s last budget for DHS for FY 2009 was $52.5 billion.
Records show that the DHS spent $147.7 million on furniture for FY 2010 through 2014.
Examples of some of the contracts reviewed show that $4.1 million was spent for "nationwide field furniture management services contract"; $1.3 million for "systems furniture" for its Laguan Niguel, Calif., location; and $1.1 million for furniture for an office in Vermont.
In fiscal year 2014, the DHS had over 1,300 contracts labeled "office furniture" on the spending website. DHS spent nearly $28 million for furniture in that fiscal year alone.
Those contracts include $2.4 million for office furniture for a Washington, D.C., office. That contract was signed on Sept. 26, 2014 and Miller’s of Columbia in North Carolina was the recipient.
Another contract shows $163,856 was spent for "waiting room seating" for one office. That contract was signed on May 5, 2014.
The DHS also spent $148,809 on "aluminum folding tables in support of Sandy Recovery Office" according to the contract for a New York office signed in 2014. Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012.
Other high contract amounts include $1.3 million spent on "office furniture and related items" for an office in New York.
The agency also signed another $1 million contract in 2014, which is expected to be completed in June 2015 for its offices in Norfolk, Virginia. The contract shows "mid back task chairs" and "inside delivery trash removal." The person who wrote the contract also stated, "shall obtain written assurance from a responsible fiscal authority that adequate funds are available," and indicated it "shall obtain a written determination from a responsible individual in the program office stating that the services/supplies are needed for the continuation of ongoing functions."
The Arlington office pent $553,678 on additional furniture for its "4th floor," according to another contract. That office makeover is expected to be completed this May.
Records show the agency also spent $542,574 for office furniture for the Coast Guard location in Norfolk, Virginia. That contract stated the amount was for the, "delivery and installation of office furniture for the U.S. Coast Guard on the 4th and 7th Floors of the Main Street Tower Building in Norfolk, Va."
One DHS location in Nebraska also had an office renovation at a price tag of $485,281. That contract stated the amount was for "office furniture for the Nebraska Service Center."
El Paso, Texas, also had new furniture upgrades at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the taxpayer. That contract for $225,588 was completed in December. In addition, the DHS spent $442,361 for "Furniture and Installation at the TSA-Dfw Offsite facility" in Florida, according to one contract.
Although the upcoming budget has not yet been approved, records show the DHS has already signed contracts in the amount of $2.2 million for new furniture for FY 2015. A total of 247 contracts have already been signed. They include a contract signed two weeks ago for $294,058 for "furniture and furniture installation services" for the agency’s office in Coleman, Fla.
Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the DHS, went on five talk shows Sunday urging passage of his agency’s budget and said the national security of the country is at risk. Essential employees of the DHS, including border patrol agents, members of the Coast Guard, and Transportation Security Administration workers are required to report to work even if the budget is not approved.