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Interior Dept. explains $139K doors for secretary’s office

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An exterior view of the U.S. Department of The Interior is seen September 11, 2008 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON DC — The doors to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office are getting a nearly $139,000 upgrade.

The Interior Department confirmed the project Thursday, saying it is both necessary to replace old doors that are in “disrepair” and attributing the high cost to the historical nature of the building.

News of the $138,670 contract comes as several agencies are facing scrutiny over excessive spending. Last month, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson withdrew an order for pricey dining room furniture, including a $31,000 table. Zinke is also under fire for questionable travel habits.

Zinke was unaware of the expense for the doors, Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said, saying the project was driven by “career facilities and security officials” as part of a decade-long modernization of the 1930s building.

“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 in a 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 “Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical.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.”

The new doors will be made of fiberglass. The previous sets of doors have been damaged for years, according to an Interior official, to the point where wind and water come into the office during inclement weather, which in turn damaged the historic hardwood floors. Damage has caused bottom panels to fall out and be “replaced with cardboard and duct tape,” the official said.

The Associated Press previously reported on the door contract Thursday.

“What a waste. Just think how many dining sets you could have bought or private jets you could have chartered with that money,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, joked on Twitter.

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