How much does it Cost to Operate the White House? - The Intrepid

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How much does it Cost to Operate the White House?

The White House

That’s easy. The Congressional Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2008 indicates that the yearly operating expense of the White House was $12,814,000. Or, about $35,106 a day. These expenses include: “maintenance, repair and alteration, refurnishing, improvement, heating, and lighting, including electric power and fixtures, of the Executive Residence at the White House and official entertainment expenses of the President…”

If only the answer were that simple to procure.

The real answer is exceedingly complicated. In addition to the annual congressional budget for the operation of the White House, there are over 22 other budget accounts, in 13 different departments, that pay the expenses and salaries of the White House staff.

Defining what constitutes “The White House” is also difficult. In his book, To Serve the President, Bradley H. Patterson argues that there are 23 separate accounts that make up the costs of the White House. Some of these accounts include the President’s Salary, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Security Council, the Department of State, and so on. As Patterson notes, finding the real cost of the White House is almost impossible. The funding for these various White House functions are buried within numerous appropriation bills, some of which are classified.

However, Patterson provides a ball park figure by tallying the following expenses.

Total Cost of the Whole White House for Fiscal Year 2008

  1. Compensation of the president (including an expense allowance of $50,000): $ 450,000
  2. The Executive Residence operating expenses: $12,814,000
  3. The Executive Residence—repair and restoration: $1,600,000
  4. The vice president’s downtown office: $15,511,9603
  5. Residence of the vice president—operating expenses: $320,000
  6. The White House Office (including the Homeland Security Council): $53,656,000
  7. Office of Policy Development (the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council): $3,482,000
  8. National Security Council: $30,300,820
  9. One-eighth of the Office of Administration, for direct services to the president pursuant to Section 3(a) of Executive Order 12028: $11,468,125
  10. The president’s unanticipated needs: $1,000,000
  11. White House Center Service Delivery Team (in the GSA budget): $26,000,000
  12. U.S. Postal Service, White House branch: $726,000
  13. National Archives professional archival support of the White House: $1,000,000
  14. Value of gifts supplied by the Department of State for presentation to foreign leaders at White House official entertainment functions: $50,000
  15. White House Communications Agency (in the budget of the Defense Information Systems Agency): $173,900,000
  16. Air Force One (in U.S. Air Force budget) (classified) (Estimated cost: $200,000,000)
  17. Helicopter squadron HMX-One (in the Marine Corps budget; this is the fiscal year 2008 appropriation segment of a fifteen year-long procurement of twenty-eight new helicopters): $271,000,000
  18. Camp David (in the Navy/Seabees budget): $7,900,0005
  19. Salary costs for 2,300 employees in above units 15, 16, 17, and 18 (all in the budget of the Department of Defense): $151,800,000
  20. U.S. Secret Service (in the budget of the Department of Homeland Security) (21-26)
  21. Protection of persons and facilities: $689,535,000
  22. For protective intelligence activities: $57,704,000
  23. For handling “special security events,” such as the 2009 Inaugural: $1,000,000
  24. For screening of White House mail: $16,201,000
  25. Operations of the James J. Rowley Training Center: $51,954,000
  26. Improvements at the James J. Rowley Training Center: $3,725,000
  27. Commission on White House Fellowships (in the budget of the Office of Personnel Management): $850,000
  28. National Park Service White House Liaison Office, including the White House Visitor Center (in the budget of the National Park Service): $8,700,000
  29. Cost of detailees who work more than six months in a calendar year: $227,349
Total Cost of All White House Elements, for fiscal year 2008: $1,592,875,254

(This total does not include classified expenses or donations)

$1.5 billion is a lot of money. $4,364,041/day, to be precise. But keep in mind, this is for the Executive Office of the United States of America, which is more than just a building.

Image by Scott Ableman.


A Discussion In Truth said...

It's dastardly and blameworthy.

Ed Darrell said...

Have you updated this recently, for the Obama White House? You may have seen all the Twitter chatter about a story claiming the Obama's live much better than the Queen of England . . . your story is the most authoritative and concise I've found. I wish you had the same thing for any Obama year.

Stephen M. said...

Hi Ed,

Sorry, I haven't worked out the costs for Obama. But it doesn't look like they're much higher. It's hard to tell though, because, as I mentioned in the post, calculating the cost of the White House is almost impossible due to the various interlinking agencies and departments.

Here are some of the base costs of the Obama White House in 2011 according to the Congressional Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act:

- Operating expenses: $13,536,000. That's about $1 million more than it was during 2008. Just slightly higher than inflation.
- The Executive Residence—repair and restoration: $990,000. Slightly less than in 2008.
- Compensation for the President: $450,000 (the same)
- Expenses for the Vice President's Residence: $307,000 (about the same)
- President's unanticipated needs: $988,000 (about the same)

I may look a little closer, if I fine the time.

Source: (hasn't passed Congress yet)

Ed Darrell said...

Thanks. It's nice to find someone who actually struggles for accuracy, rather than snark.

The Safety Guy: said...

Some WH budget information is detailed here:

Gregor Warner said...

How much for the plane, the trips, and the Secret Service protection.

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Don G said...

You're new Independent president, Gen Mccaffrey, wont be living in the white house. We'll create revenue by opening it up to the public for tours.....

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carolyn knight said...

Hi my name is Carolyn Knight and I got pretty darn sick to my stomache when I read how much it takes to run the White House Do you know how much money I get a month right at $700.00 and with that I have to pay my light bill Which is $150.00 A month and my rent which is $400.00 a month and my water and sewer which is $30.00 a month and I don't count gas or groceries because I can't afford them I can get $15.00 food stamps but that's not worth going up there. But I see a lot a lot a lot of black people with food stamps and they have Coach Pocketbooks .and coach Shoes and. That's just. Not right They also have new Mersadies hope I spelled that right and they own their own business now how fair is that.I. Can't get a new car I have to get a hand me down . And to look at what it cost to run the White House just turned my stomache.I hope this president has to starve like I do to see what he has put us just don't know how much I hate this man he is evil he is a coward and I hope his family starves like mine does thanks to him