Fannie Mae is charging taxpayers millions for upgrades to its new headquarters, including $250,000 for a chandelier.
The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which acts as a conservator for the mortgage lender, recently noted $32 million in questionable costs in an audit for Fannie Mae's new headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C.
Fannie Mae will be the flagship of Midtown Center, which is scheduled to complete construction in June 2018. The inspector general reported that costs for the new headquarters have "risen dramatically," to $171 million, up from $115 million when the consolidated headquarters was announced in 2015.
The inspector general blamed expensive upgrades for cost overruns, such as a third glass walkway costing $2 million to connect Fannie Mae buildings, $1.2 million for "decorative wood slatted ceilings," decorative wood "lunch huts," and pergolas, or garden-style pavilions, in elevator lobbies.
FHFA officials have had poor oversight of the project, according to the inspector general, because they "did not review whether any of the major upgrades were cost-effective or whether lower cost alternatives were available."
Among the upgrades: a $250,000 chandelier that no one was quite sure what it was for.