$16 muffins, $8 coffee served in U.S. Justice audit

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:09am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the U.S. government grapples to find ways to trim the bloated federal deficit, a new report suggests officials might start with cutting out $16 muffins and $10 cookies.

"We found the Department (of Justice) spent $16 on each of the 250 muffins served at an August 2009 legal conference in Washington," said a DOJ Office of Inspector General report released on Tuesday.

The DOJ spent $121 million on conferences in fiscal 2008 and 2009, which exceeded its own spending limits and appeared to be extravagant and wasteful, according to the report that examined 10 conferences held during that period.

The review turned up the expensive muffins, which came from the Capital Hilton Hotel just blocks from the White House, as well as cookies and brownies that cost almost $10 each.

The department spent $32 per person on snacks of Cracker Jack, popcorn, and candy bars and coffee that cost $8.24 per cup at another conference, the report said.

The DOJ also spent nearly $600,000 for event planning services for five conferences, the document said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said most of the gathering were held when there were no strict limits on food and beverage costs, adding the DOJ had taken steps since 2009 "to ensure that these problems do not occur again."

Word of the agency's extravagant spending drew a swift response from Capitol Hill.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee which has oversight of the Justice Department, said the report was a blueprint for the first cuts that should be made by the "super committee" searching for at least $1.2 trillion in savings.

"Sixteen dollar muffins and $600,000 for event planning services are what make Americans cynical about government and why they are demanding change," Grassley said in a statement. "People are outraged, and rightly so."

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (13)
Areef wrote:
It must be to discuss “Islamic Terrorism” – needed to sweeten the deal for people to show up and enjoy the dog and pony show.

Sep 21, 2011 11:58am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnotherNobody wrote:
Go to Walmart like the rest of us “Little People”. They have cheep 12 cup coffee makers, coffee, and muffins. There will be thousands of dollars in savings!

Sep 21, 2011 12:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Whys333 wrote:
“Sixteen dollar muffins and $600,000 for event planning services are what make Americans cynical about government and why they are demanding change,” — Senator Grassley *(has oversight of the Justice Department)*

Just wanted to point that out. After all…

“People are outraged, and rightly so.”

Nice oversight, Grassley. :p

Sep 21, 2011 12:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.