Revealed: How DIA spent $2 million on furniture
The Taxpayers' Union can reveal how the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) spent $2,047,388 on furniture in just 18 months.
Last month, National MP Melissa Lee grilled the DIA for an apparent furniture blowout in 2020/21, but now we learn that she wasn't given a full accounting of the Department's shopping spree.
An official information response obtained by the Taxpayers' Union shows that the DIA spent $1,935,674 million on furniture for its offices in the 18 months to the end of 2021. The major expenses included workstations (desks), chairs, and 'collaboration furniture' for shared spaces.
Additionally, $111,714 was spent on furniture for use in employees' homes. Two hundred and forty-eight employees received office chairs to use at home, at an average cost of $431 each. Some staff were even given adjustable foot rests, and one received a $115 floor mat.
The spending figures exclude installation costs and IT equipment.
Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, "The spending works out at $1,048 for every permanent employee. Are we expected to believe that every desk, chair, locker and beanbag all went kaput at once? Remember, this was a period in which a large portion of DIA's staff were working from home."
"It appears that DIA has pressed ahead with a department-wide furniture revamp instead of simply replacing items on an as-needed basis. This is egregious during a cost of living crisis when taxpayers are tightening their belts and making sacrifices."
"The Department even forked out for 3,526 workstations despite only employing 1,954 permanent staff. This kind of spending raises the question of whether DIA is in fact over-funded. If the Government is serious about reining in debt, it should take a close look at the budgets of DIA and other major public service entities."
More detailed descriptions of a selection of DIA furniture purchases can be found in a response to Select Committee questions by Melissa Lee (page 23). The breakdown reveals a strong proclivity for standing desks.