April 17, 2015
It’s fair to say that most people can go about their day to day lives without worrying too much about the price of office furniture. That is until they need to work themselves into a state of excitement about the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on desks and chairs. We’ve already highlighted how the hackles of the electorate are raised easily by the sight of refurbished offices although we are at a loss to explain why, especially when you consider it in comparison to the spectacular foul-ups associated with IT procurement and the fact they probably don’t sit around on tea crates at home. This visceral reaction is an international phenomenon. While the good people of Sheffield can whip themselves up about a £73 task chair, across the pond a political storm has formed around the £4 million expenditure of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on office furniture.
Spearheading the indignation is Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch who sent a letter to the IRS about the expenditure on office refurbishment and a number of other things he considers inappropriate for a Government department he sees as underperforming. Hatch wrote: “Since your agency continues to have problems prioritizing the use of its budget, which has been reduced in recent years after historic growth late in the last decade, I write to offer some courtesy suggestions on spending that might be curtailed. I hope this is helpful in identifying additional areas of wasteful spending that might be better redirected elsewhere, such as helping taxpayers file their taxes.”
A spokesman for the IRS responded to Hatch’s concerns with its own letter. “It’s important to note that our furniture purchases last year were essential in our efforts to combine and reduce office space, leading to more than $15 million in space-reduction savings for taxpayers,” according to a report in the magazine Accounting Today.