“Deeply Flawed” Lease Costs Taxpayers $557 Mil
JUNE 21, 2011
In a classic example of how the government blows taxpayer money, the federal agency responsible for protecting investors and preserving market integrity dropped nearly $557 million on office space it will never use and lied to cover up the wrongdoing.It gets better. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) used a rather innovative system to determine how big its new fancy headquarters should be, according to an official at the agency. It’s called WAG, which stands for “wild-ass guess.”Those with difficulty believing this frivolous handling of taxpayer dollars by a U.S. government agency can read all about it in an official federal report. The recently published SEC Inspector General document tells how the agency employed the WAG formula and “grossly overestimated” the amount of office space it needed.The IG further says that the SEC used “a deeply flawed and unsound process” to justify the deal and likely violated federal law by not awarding the lease competitively. The 900,000-square-foot space, at the upscale Constitution Center, is located in Southwest WashingtonD.C.The luxurious building features limestone floors, marble walls, and a landscaped courtyard, according to the report. It also has panoramic views of the city and surrounding region and an open plaza that was transformed into a one-acre private garden.When the unscrupulous deal was questioned, SEC officials lied and created bogus documents to conceal the wrongdoing. It’s not the first time the SEC tweaks the facts to cover up a lease scandal, according to investigators, who point out in the report that this “represents another in a long history of missteps and misguided leasing decisions by the agency.”The SEC, which is charged with policing the nation’s financial industry, has proven to be a taxpayer-funded disaster preoccupied by a variety of public corruption scandals while the economy slowly crumbled.Among the more famous ones is a porn scandal in which high-ranking SEC managers and employees regularly spent work hours gawking at pornography webs sites on their government computers. The offenders include senior officers with lucrative six-figure salaries and a senior agency attorney who spent up to eight hours daily accessing internet porn.
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