The $500,000 government toilet

  • 31 July 2019
  • NormanL

Public transit systems are notorious for their costs, inefficiencies, and cronyism. But few systems have more trouble of all three types than the Washington DC Metro service. A recent report from the agency's inspector general makes clear how bad things are. But even we we astonished at this item on page 8 about a very pricey, and unused, self-cleaning toilet:

OI received a referral from OA indicating that WMATA spent approximately $500,000 maintaining a single self-cleaning toilet located at the Huntington Metro Station. OIG conducted an investigation into this matter and found evidence to substantiate that WMATA spent $416,789.32 based on known invoices between 2003 and 2017. Neither PLNT nor PRMT were able to provide OIG with all invoices, so the known total spent does not include the years of 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Based on spending from the previous years, it is probable that WMATA spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out-of- service since the fall of 2017.

That's right, more than $500,000 spent on a single self-cleaning toilet that has been out of service since 2017.

It almost makes the inspector general's other discoveries -- overpaying contractors, a payroll fraud scheme, phony inspection reports, and more -- seem positively dull.

None of it is of course, particularly when the Metro system demands more and more taxpayer money to prop-up its operations. But from now on, those demands will be weighed against the enormous waste (so to speak) of a toilet no one uses.