Former President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency spent millions of dollars so that senior agency staffers in Washington, D.C. wouldn’t have to pay to park. And according to a new report from the EPA Office of Inspector General, many of those parking spots were never used.
While that administration pushed other government employees to ride a bike, catch a bus, or carpool to lessen their carbon footprint, the EPA subsidized parking for staffers at their Atlanta and D.C. offices.
“Over the course of the two years, the EPA paid 1.5 million for its employee parking at those two locations,” says Cathy Allen, the auditor that discovered the waste. “[$840,000] was to subsidize employee parking and the other 690,000 was paid for unoccupied parking spaces.”
Beginning in the Reagan administration, the federal government started subsidizing parking because, like everybody else, bureaucrats need to park their cars somewhere when they work. Since 2013, the Government Services Administration has recommended drastically cutting back the program and plenty of agencies have followed suit.
But the EPA in D.C. didn’t, and that’s telling. Many Washington residents who live inside the city limits take the Metro or call an Uber. The people who commute, the ones who can afford a car in the first place, usually drive from ritzy suburbs in Virginia or Maryland.
EPA makes its own decisions, though, and they’re under no obligation to follow the inspector general’s recommendation. “It’s up to the EPA,” Allen explained, “to decide whether the costs of providing subsidized parking are justified.”
Fiscal, environmental, and common sense would suggest it is not.