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Smithsonian Documents Detail Chief's Expenses

Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small received $1.15 million in housing allowances over six years in return for agreeing to use his home in Woodley Park, above, for Smithsonian functions. A spreadsheet of Small's expenses makes reference only to two dinners at his home, both in 2000.
Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small received $1.15 million in housing allowances over six years in return for agreeing to use his home in Woodley Park, above, for Smithsonian functions. A spreadsheet of Small's expenses makes reference only to two dinners at his home, both in 2000. (By James V. Grimaldi -- The Washington Post)

But the accountants who reviewed Small's housing expenses for the inspector general found that they were far short of the amount that Small needed to show in order to receive the maximum reimbursement, according to Senate investigators.

For example, in 2000, Small's actual housing expenses amounted to $92,000 -- which would only entitle him to $46,000 under the formula rather than the $150,000 he received that year, the investigators said.

After the review began, Small's staff retroactively submitted paperwork for a "hypothetical mortgage," noting that Small's contract permitted him to claim reimbursement for the "equivalent costs of home ownership." It was hypothetical because Small does not have a mortgage and owns his $3.5 million home outright, the inspector general said.

The hypothetical mortgage added $24,000 a month to his housing expenses, allowing him to qualify for the maximum in housing allowances, according to investigators.

The inspector general on Jan. 16 found some fault with the hypothetical calculation, stating "the overall costs could have been lower." She found that the hypothetical mortgage rate of 8.32 percent was higher than available market rates. But she did not recommend that Small reimburse the institution for his housing allowance. Thirteen days later, the Board of Regents revised his contract to permit a lump-sum housing allowance of $193,000.

The Smithsonian has not responded to requests from The Post or the Senate Finance Committee to provide information on how often Small has entertained at his home. A spreadsheet of Small's expenses given to the inspector general makes reference only to two dinners at the secretary's home, both in 2000. Investigators said they have seen documents showing that Small occasionally charged for catered events that he hosted outside the institution. Most of those events were held at a separate apartment on Calvert Street NW that Small used as a gallery for his own Amazonian artifacts, investigators said.

Accountants working for the Smithsonian inspector general disallowed $30,000 for planting trees around Small's home because that was deemed to be "capital expense," which was not eligible for reimbursement under his employment agreement.

Research director Lucy Shackelford contributed to this article.


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