ND Paying $1.5 Million A Year For Mostly Empty Building.
The North Dakota Information Technology Department building in north Bismarck is the newly remodeled 85,000 square foot home to some of the best tech minds in the state. Or at least it once was, it seems that home is now actually home to a large majority of it's more than 400 employees. The pandemic scattered much of the world's workforce out of their conventional workplace. Slowly, most employees returned to work.
Bruce Springsteen famously sang in "Hungry Heart", one of his first big hits, "I went out for a ride and I never went back"
So it goes for the tech savvy crew of the NDITD, they're working from home. They're still doing the jobs they were hired to complete, just doing it from home. Problem is...North Dakota is leasing the building. At nearly $3 million in rent over the next two years, it's the costliest lease currently on the books for North Dakota taxpayer's.
Here's the rub, according to the agency's director of administration Greg Hoffman-
the privately owned office building in north Bismarck is unoccupied, except for about a dozen employees
We're paying $3 million dollars to house twelve techies? That's over seven thousand square feet per person! You were happy when they just put that mini-fridge in your company's "break room".
Well can't the mighty state of North Dakota's Legislators invoke the appropriations clause?
The Appropriations Clause is the cornerstone of Congress's “power of the purse.” It assigns to Congress the role of final arbiter of the use of public funds. ... The Appropriations Clause provides Congress with a mechanism to control or to limit spending by the federal government.
There, solved that little problem for ya...you're welcome. That is of course, until Greg Hoffman rains on that parade-
Hoffman said agency officials inquired about having lawmakers cut funding for the lease but were told by the state attorney general’s office that would cause a “legal battle” with the building’s landlord, who lives in Fargo.
Working remotely starts with ITD leader Shawn Riley, who's home is in Southeast Minnesota, although he claims to spend 90% of his time in North Dakota since being hired in 2017. The AP story also talks about how many of the ITD employees were working remotely even pre-pandemic.
The conventional cubicle may have become a thing of the past for many company's culture. That doesn't bother me a bit so long as taxpayers don't have to pay millions for their pajama party. ND Governor Doug Burgum was promoting working at home as a tool for employee recruiting.
Hopefully, Doug can work this out soon.