Oversight committee asks Zinke for details on cost of $139,000 doors
Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee has asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to brief the committee on the department’s decision to spend $139,000 to replace three sets of doors in his office at Interior headquarters.
In a letter to Zinke, Rep. Trey Gowdy says the committee is aware of “allegations of excess cost.” He asks Zinke to provide more details on the process of negotiating the contract before April 6.
Zinke told a different House committee last week that the department has negotiated the price to half of the original contract and the cost will now be about $75,000.
“The Secretary has directed that the contract be modified to change the scope of the project for a substantial cost savings,” department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.
When the department confirmed the purchase it said that the $139,000 cost was to repair three sets of double doors in Zinke’s office. The director of the department’s office of facilities said in a statement that two sets of doors led outside and were in need of repair because water leaked in during bad weather and damaged the wood floors.
Swift also said that he was not aware of the cost earlier this month but that the secretary thought it was too expensive.
“This project was requested by career facilities and security officials at Interior as part of the decade-long modernization of the historic FDR-era building. The secretary was not aware of this contract but agrees that this is a lot of money for demo, install, materials, and labor. Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical. This is a perfect example of why the Secretary believes we need to reform procurement processes,” Swift said in a statement earlier this month.
Zinke testified last week that the cost was driven up by government purchasing rules and guidelines for preserving historic buildings, though he did not go into detail.
“But a lot of the issue is on historic buildings, you have to follow such stringent rules, even though some of them don’t make common sense, then it just cost the taxpayers to – and we’re bound by those rules. I don’t even have a choice,” Zinke told the House Natural Resources Committee in a hearing on the department’s budget Thursday.
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