How much will maintenance and repairs, energy (if any), cost over the life of the project?

How much downtime is anticipated during such work?

How much could life cycle costs be reduced by spending more upfront for better quality materials, a different design, etc.?

What are the projected costs of disposing of the property when its useful life ends?

What obligations does the vendor have to ensure that the project, building or goods perform as promised?

What clawbacks for underperformance are in the contract?

If Net Present Value was not analyzed, why not?

If government officials cannot answer those questions, that is a story—about spending taxpayer funds without knowing the total all-in costs taxpayers must bear.

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David Cay Johnston covers fiscal and budget matters for CJR’s United States Project. He is a reporter with 46 years of experience, including 13 at The New York Times; a columnist for Tax Analysts; teaches tax and regulatory law at Syracuse University Law School; and is president of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). Follow him on Twitter @DavidCayJ.