Brownie II

Tax dollars at work 

Bush appointed Ashcroft who appointed Carl Truscott:

The new headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the District is at least $19 million over budget at a time when the agency is considering sharp cuts in the number of new cars, bulletproof vests and other basics it provides agents.

The Justice Department inspector general’s office recently received a complaint alleging that ATF Director Carl J. Truscott put through or proposed unnecessary plan changes and upgrades to the 438,000-square-foot building in the past two years, according to four sources familiar with the project.


Truscott planned to purchase, among other things, nearly $300,000 in extras for the new director’s suite, including a $65,000 conference table and more than $100,000 for hardwood floors, custom trim and other items, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. ATF officials said that none of those upgrades has been approved and that the conference table was initially proposed by the architect and replaced in plans with one that costs half as much.

The Justice Department and the inspector general’s office declined to comment. Truscott also declined to comment through the ATF press office.

Sources portray Truscott as preoccupied with the project. He has held numerous meetings, some focused on its tiniest details, such as paint colors and soap dishes, they said. He also has organized regular field trips to the building site with senior executives and photographers and has decorated ATF’s current offices with oversize photos of the construction, they said.

The sources also said that some ATF officials object to the approximately $1 million annual cost of an extensive security detail for Truscott, who spent 22 years at the Secret Service before coming to ATF. The expenditures pay for five full-time agents and two armored Chevrolet Suburbans, which have not been made available to previous ATF directors or to the heads of comparable agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals Service, according to sources and government records.


But other officials critical of the way the project has been handled said that many of the cost increases should have been foreseen or reduced and that Truscott has pursued expansions and modifications to the project at the expense of ATF’s basic operational needs. The director overruled some subordinates by adding about 500 employees in the past year, many of whom do not have desks or office space because of the agency’s budget problems, several sources said.

ATF executives have been told to expect cutbacks of 20 to 30 percent in their operating costs this fiscal year. The heads of the agency’s eight directorates were required to submit memos two weeks ago outlining cuts under that scenario.

Likely effects include no new cars for the agency, which commonly buys more than 300 vehicles a year, and no bulletproof vests to replace about 500 that are expected to expire this year, sources said.

Meanwhile, they said, Truscott has devoted much of his time to the new headquarters. At one meeting, they said, he and his aides discussed the relative merits of shower curtains vs. shower doors, and soap dispensers vs. soap dishes for the building’s gymnasium area, which was redesigned to include more workout space. The consensus was shower curtains and soap dispensers, but towel service was ruled out as too costly, the sources said.

Other meetings focused on the colors of wallcoverings, types of flooring for different areas and details of $2 million worth of educational and historical exhibits, sources said. Managers spent weeks deciding on seating charts for their departments, sources said, even though the building was far from finished.

One source said Truscott added costs by changing a floor tile order in one area because the original design “made him dizzy.”

This really is the Best Administration ever.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....