Brewing Coffee in the Agency’s Pot

GAO says that agencies can use appropriated funds for purchase of kitchen applicances

Need a new coffee pot for your break room? How about a new refrigerator or a microwave?

Most offices have some of these items. But, in most agencies, the coffee pot or microwave has been donated by someone who bought a new one or from the quarter each person puts into a can for a cup of coffee throughout the day.

That scenario may have changed though. According to the GAO, there are circumstances in which government funds can be used to purchase kitchen appliances.

In this case, the US Pacific Command asked if it could use appropriated funds to buy kitchen appliances for the kitchen. The answer: “[The agency] may use appropriated funds to purchase refrigerators, microwaves, and commercial coffee makers for central kitchen areas in its new headquarters building.”

That may surprise some office workers who are used to the $10.95 Wal-Mart coffee pot that has been sitting in your break room for the past several years. GAO says that “Appropriations are available to pay for items ordinarily considered to be personal in nature, such as kitchen appliances, when the primary benefit of their use accrues to the agency, notwithstanding a collateral benefit to the individual.”

So, if your agency can show that having new kitchen appliances are for the benefit of the agency, and not your personal use, you may get a new coffee pot, along with a refrigerator and microwave.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47