Sitting on a Mountain of Debt

By:  Michael Tennant
09/06/2012
       
Sitting on a Mountain of Debt

 Federal agencies have spent $500,000 for 1,000 trendy, ergonomic office chairs, a fraction of which were actually needed for medical reasons.

The U.S. government is sitting on a mountain of debt — literally. According to The Daily, since 2005 federal agencies have spent nearly $500,000 on trendy office chairs; and while government spokesmen claim the ergonomic chairs have been purchased solely for medical reasons, evidence indicates that they are, in fact, bought routinely for perfectly healthy employees.

The pricey chairs, called Aerons, are “the sleek, adjustable seats that first gained popularity during the 1990s dot-com boom,” in the words of The Daily, which noted that the chairs became so ubiquitous at “dot-coms, Fortune 500 companies, and A-list Hollywood production sets” that the Museum of Modern Art added one to its permanent collection. Manufactured by Michigan-based Herman Miller, Inc., Aerons retail for $750 to $1,150.

The federal government pays considerably less than that but still isn’t exactly pinching pennies. It bought 1,002 ergonomic chairs between 2005 and 2011, of which 81 percent were Aerons. “Uncle Sam spent at least $497,494 on the chairs during that period,” writes the iPad newspaper, “at an average cost of more than $500 each,” including 235 Aerons at $545 apiece for the Department of State in 2009 and 30 Aerons at $588 apiece for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011.

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