- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2014

When Obama administration officials revealed plans this week to rebuild the White House’s bowling lanes, they failed to mention that the George W. Bush administration paid for a renovation of the facility just before President Obama took office.

A former official in the Bush White House, John Dorff, said the bowling lanes in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were rebuilt in 2007-08 in a project that took several months to complete. The renovations were needed to repair water damage caused by an unrelated construction project in the building.

“Our office worked with Brunswick to replace and repair all of the mechanical equipment, including the pin-setter and ball return,” Mr. Dorff said. “We spruced the place up by adding ‘retro’ furniture, presidential photos on the wall, flat screen TV, new bowling shoes and the Truman Bowling Alley backdrop above the pinsetters.”

Mr. Dorff, who was deputy director of the White House management office, said the renovation costs were paid entirely by the office of the president. He said it’s “perfectly acceptable” to pay for repairs with government funds because of the bowling alley’s historical significance, but added that it’s important for government employees who enjoy the perk to “take good care of it.”

The General Services Administration posted a notice online Wednesday of the Obama administration’s intention to rebuild the bowling alley with “green” materials, saying the lanes are “damaged and outdated.” Several hours after the GSA posted the notice, however, the agency cancelled the proposal without explanation.

The bowling alley has been a part of the White House complex since the administration of President Harry S. Truman.

The two bowling lanes are exclusively for use by White House employees and their guests, who are allowed to hold BYOB bowling parties at the facility.

One bowler who used the lanes in 2010 said on Yelp that the bowling alley was in “surprisingly good condition.” But another bowler said in 2012 that the ball return was broken.