WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's watchdog is estimating a total price tag of nearly $216 million for the bureau's renovation of its headquarters.

In a letter to House Republicans this week, the bureau's inspector general said the estimated cost of $215.8 million includes certain "add-in" expenses, on top of construction, including rent for "swing space" and moving costs.

"We will refine our estimate of these costs based on the updated [architectural and engineering] and independent government cost estimates and include any relevant information in our subsequent report to the CFPB," Mark Bialek, who is also the Federal Reserve Board's IG, wrote in a letter this week to Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

The CFPB, based on estimates of the General Services Administration, last year reported construction-related expenses for the project totaling $150.8 million. That was up from a $95 million estimate the previous year, but that earlier projection did not include costs for architectural and engineering services. (Neither estimate included the swing space rent or moving costs identified by the IG.)

The GOP, which has fought the agency's existence since it was established under the Dodd-Frank Act, has similarly targeted the renovation costs.

"The continuously growing price tag is a tremendous waste of funds and, amazingly, there is still no assurance the $216 million price tag won't grow higher," McHenry, who had requested that the IG look into the matter, said in a press release.

But CFPB officials have repeatedly argued that the renovations are in-line with other government building renovations. Last month, CFPB Director Richard Cordray told the Financial Services Committee that the nearly 40-year-old building currently housing the agency was "a dump."

"The CFPB's headquarters is a government asset that is past its prime and needs to be brought up to current standards. Government buildings are frequently renovated," said Jennifer Howard, the agency's chief spokesperson. "The CFPB has been open and transparent about our cost estimates throughout the process, as outlined by the IG report. Furthermore, the report clearly states that competitive procedures are being used at every stage of spending on this project."


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