Former Presidents:

Office and Security Costs and Other Information

GAO-01-983: Published: Sep 28, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 2001.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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For fiscal years 1977 through 2000, the federal government paid about $370 million to support former presidents and their families. As of June 2001, the offices of the five living former presidents ranged in size from 3,300 to 5,900 square feet. The General Services Administration (GSA) is authorized to provide each former president with suitable office space appropriately furnished and equipped at a location specified by the former president. The law does not, however, provide any guidance on the appropriate amount of space that is to be provided. For fiscal year 2000, GSA's rent charged to former President Bush was $144,000, former President Carter $89,283, former President Ford $105,099, and former President Reagan $256,671. Former President Clinton's office was not finished until late August 2001. His annual rent payment to GSA for fiscal year 2002 is estimated to be about $354,000. The federal government is paying the entire lease cost for all of the former presidents' offices, according to GSA officials. The rental rates GSA has paid for former presidents' offices are generally comparable to rents paid for similar properties in the same areas. The Carter Presidential Center has provided additional space for President Carter's use at no cost to the government. The Secret Service maintains space close to each of the former presidents' offices and pays rent to GSA for that space. The office staffs of former presidents ranged from six to 19 persons, including paid staff, volunteers, and interns. In addition to receiving federal compensation, most paid staff members also receive compensation from other sources. According to representatives of each former president, the staff is not involved with political fund-raising activities. To varying degrees, foundations associated with each former president are involved with the office operations. Although the foundations themselves do not pay any portion of the office rent, they do supply some furniture and equipment.

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