The Slatest

The Interior Department Is Spending $139,000 on New Doors for Secretary Zinke’s Office

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his dog in his office for a Take Your Dog to Work Day event on May 5, 2017 at the Interior Department in Washington, DC.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his dog in his office for a Take Your Dog to Work Day event on May 5, 2017 at the Interior Department in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

There’s no other way to say this: The Department of the Interior is spending $139,000 on three sets of double doors in Sec. Ryan Zinke’s office. That’s a lot. It’s a price tag you might expect from the Department of Interior Design. That’s four-and-a-half Ben Carson home dining sets just for some lousy doors. What’s wrong with the current doors? For starters, a spokesperson told the AP, “the current door from a hallway to the secretary’s sixth-floor office does not lock, so a security upgrade is needed.” Another set of balcony doors in the secretary’s office “leak ‘like a sieve’ whenever it rains, forcing workers to mop the wooden floor in Zinke’s office,” an Interior official told the AP. “The new balcony doors will be made of fiberglass specially made by Conquest Solutions and include glass transoms above the doors and fiberglass door frames,” the official said.

Fiberglass, you say? That does sound expensive. But worth it. Like Fyre Festival tickets. Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift explained to the AP, which came across the expenditure in a public posting, the project was “planned by career facilities and security officials as part of the decade-long modernization.” “The secretary was not aware of this contract but agrees that this is a lot of money for demo, install, materials and labor,” Swift said Thursday in an emailed statement. “Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical.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.”

Perhaps. A Maryland contractor, Conquest Solutions LLC, who has done repairs on other federal buildings was hired to pimp Zinke’s doors after submitting what appears to be the only bid. While the door seems unlikely to fall under Zinke’s direct purview, the secretary would have a lot more credibility on the issue if his Interior Department hadn’t handed out a $300 million Puerto Rico recovery contract to a couple dudes from his hometown last year. And like seemingly every other cabinet-level position in the Trump administration, Zinke’s penchant for luxury travel has been unbecoming. Door-gate makes dining set-gate, the $31,000 dining set HUD Secretary Ben Carson got dinged for trying to put on the government’s tab last month, look like an Ikea purchase.*

*Correction, March 9, 2018: This post originally misstated that Ben Carson’s $31,000 dining set was for his home. It was part of a renovation for his HUD office suite.