The Air Force Cleans Dishes, and the Treasury, Fast

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The Air Force has been grumbling about a lack of funds. So why hasn't it been keeping a closer eye on its petty cash? Embarrassing case in point: an audit of the publicly funded renovations to the Air Force Academy’s Carlton House, home of the academy’s head, Lieut. General Tad Oelstrom.

The service's auditors found that the cost of the kitchen renovation — estimated at $151,000 — had ballooned to $308,000. That’s steep, since taxpayers had paid to remodel the kitchen in 1988. And 1968. And 1958. Apparently, the place needed "seamless Corian countertops." That boosted the price 17 percent. And then there's the dishwasher that does a load in 90 seconds. It cost $4,717. Installation of the dishwasher incurred an additional $12,479. "Justification for this type of dishwasher," the auditors noted, "was not documented."

Academy officials say the 1930s-era home is often host to public gatherings that require a big kitchen. But the bean counters weren’t swayed. Nor were they moved by the Air Force’s official grounds for the remodeling — that "the area is always hot, the lighting is poor, the refrigerator is not functional for a family." Sort of makes the $2.4 billion B-2 bomber seem like a steal.