Articles from January 2011

Massive government waste at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

I started off the new semester of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) by marveling at the outright government waste that makes up their spending decisions.

The university, in its infinite wisdom, decided to replace a large number of desks that were used for student seating. Now, while a modest number of seats were broken and in need of replacement, what did the university decide to replace the traditional style of desks with?

An alternative that costs over twice the price.

How do I know this? Because, I, as an enterprising young hate-blogger, know that state agencies are required to purchase their supplies, especially their furniture, through the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Correctional Enterprises.

Now, if you go to the website for the VADCOC’s Correctional Enterprises, you can look through their inventory and see how much stuff costs. What does a traditional desk cost? $140 at the cheapest.

Meanwhile, the university decided that instead of choosing that frugal option, it would instead purchase “general purpose office table[s]” and put two chairs under them.

How much does the table, which seats two, cost? $200.

How much do the chairs cost? $210 a piece.

Now, we need a table and two chairs for two students, which would cost $620, or $310 for seating space for one student, or over twice the price for a single desk.

And how much does it cost if you multiple the cost difference out over multiple rooms, floors, and buildings? For the sake of simplicity, assume ten rooms seating 30 students a piece over four floors. It would be $168,000 for the regular old desks while the table/chairs setup would be $372,000, or a waste of $204,000 to seat only 1,200 students.

And the university is wasting this level of money after they raised tuition 24% in the last academic year and the state has already threaten to reduce its share of the university’s funding?

And it isn’t just the cost, the table/chairs setup just doesn’t work in a majority of the rooms. The chairs don’t fit under the tables correctly, and since the seats closest (to the often times single) aisle are the first to go it, you end up with an inch or two of space for someone to squeeze through to get to the other seats.

All around, it’s a Charlie-Foxtrot and a massive waste of limited money the college has.

Cross-posted at Virginia Virtucon.

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