Wednesday, September 21, 2011
$16 MUFFINS, TAXPAYERS PAY THE CHECK
The Justice Department on Tuesday came under criticism for “extravagant and potentially wasteful” spending on conferences at the end of the Bush administration and early in the Obama administration, including paying $16 per muffin and $8 per eight-ounce cup of coffee at certain events.
“Some conferences featured costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks that we believe were indicative of wasteful or extravagant spending — especially when service charges, taxes, and indirect costs are factored into the actual price paid for food and beverages,” said a newly released report by the department’s acting inspector general, Cynthia Schnedar.
The report scrutinized spending at a sampling of conferences from October 2007 to September 2009, focusing on eye-popping calculations of food and beverage expenses.
A five-day conference in August 2009 at the Capital Hilton in Washington to train immigration lawyers saved money by serving only snacks. But it still cost $4,200 for 250 muffins and $2,880 for 300 cookies and brownies, more than $16 a muffin and nearly $10 per cookie and brownie.
...food costs were exaggerated because of the way deals with the hotels were often structured: the hotels provided “free” meeting space in exchange for an agreement to use their pricey food and beverage services.