$16 Muffins, $8 Coffees, $5 Meatballs: Justice Dept. Spending Rapped
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Mark Memmott
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 8:30 AM
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The department's been guilty of some "extravagant" spending at conferences in recent years, its inspector general says. Justice officials say they'll work hard to trim costs in the future.

   

There's more ammunition today for those who collect evidence of government waste.

In a new report covering the last few years of the George W. Bush administration and the first year of the Obama administration, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General found that at conferences hosted by DOJ there was some "allowable but ... extravagant" spending.

A few notes from the report:

-- A lunch at a conference in San Francisco cost "$76 per person." At the same conference, "attendees received Cracker Jacks, popcorn, and candy bars at a single break that cost $32 per person."

-- "Another conference had a $60,000 reception that included platters of Swedish meatballs at a cost of nearly $5 per meatball."

-- "One conference served $16 muffins while another served Beef Wellington hors d'oeuvres that cost $7.32 per serving."

-- "Coffee and tea at [some] events cost between $0.62 and $1.03 an ounce. At the $1.03 per-ounce price, an 8-ounce cup of coffee would have cost $8.24."

Among the inspector general's recommendations: that the department use "external event planners" when organizing such events, because they're much more likely to be able to hold down costs.

As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports for our Newscast Desk, "the Justice Department says its agrees it needs to be more careful and that it will trim spending on conferences moving forward."

All told, as The Associated Press reports, "the department hosted or participated in 1,832 conferences in 2008 and 2009, costing $121 million." [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]



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