Here at Cubicles Office Environments, we’ve covered a lot of controversies and scandals involving elected officials and their office furniture. Politicos have been raked over the coals for:
- Spending too much money on new furnishings
- Spending money to store old items instead of getting rid of them
- Failing to store or reuse old pieces
- Replacing office furniture that had “historical significance”
- Taking furniture with them when their term is up
- Not replacing office furniture that’s worn out
Now, San Francisco DA George Gascon is in trouble for tapping into the deep pockets of donors to get office furniture for free. He knew that spending the city’s money to refurnish his office wouldn’t sit well with constituents. But he figured accepting donations of furniture to outfit his office as well as the domestic violence victim’s waiting room would be OK. Now, the city is threatening to make him give it all back unless he gets formal approval to accept these gifts – even though they belong to the office and he won’t be taking them with him at the end of his tenure. It seems like government officials just can’t seem to master the balancing act of making everybody happy when it comes to office furniture!
Maybe We Should Create a Guide
Since so many people in political office seem to have trouble navigating the waters of office furniture acquisition, perhaps we could offer some advice. We can’t guarantee that these steps will help your agency avoid backlash entirely. But these tips might lessen the negative press and give you an easy way to explain or justify the acquisition.
- Make sure you do a full inventory so you know what you have. That way, you don’t buy anything you don’t really need.
- Find a way to reuse as much of the current inventory as possible (pass it on to other agencies or a non-profit if it’s no longer suitable for your organization).
- Always get budget approval for the purchase (or donation) so no one can come back later and say you have to reverse the sale.
- Issue a press release about the purpose of the purchase in advance, letting you put the right “spin” on it. Focus on the benefits for the public you serve.
- Consider purchasing refurbished office furniture or high quality used furniture. It’s thrifty and makes it clear that you are purchasing for function and not just to puff up someone’s ego.