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Want $5,000 To Decorate Your Office?

Your curtains looking dull? Want to frame your diploma? Boost your ego wall? Too bad you're not a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee.

CBS News has learned a little-known fact: presidential appointees are given an allowance of up to $5,000 to furnish or redecorate, buy furniture or make general improvements to their offices for the life of their appointment.

So while cabinet officials like Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has had to stretch her allotment over six years, new political appointees can start their clock…and their expense account now.

The federal Office of Personnel Management tells CBS News that there are currently 740 presidential appointee slots – although not all are filled. In total, that means a possible decorating budget of $3.7 million for presidential appointees.

What's an example? The Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Joseph Kelliher is a military buff. So he had his staff order antique maps from a British company for about $100 (including the one of "lower Egypt" shown below), but that didn't include frames. Federal guidelines say that if you use taxpayer dollars to frame personal art or pictures for your ego wall, you have to leave those photos or artwork behind when your term is up.

Hope the next FERC Chairman likes military maps.

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