$16 muffins? DOJ cited for excessive spending

US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE seal, money cash budget finance

WASHINGTON - Muffins: $16 apiece. Coffee: more than a dollar an ounce. Snacks: $32 per person.

A report issued Tuesday by the Justice Department's inspector general found excessive spending on food and beverages in an audit of 10 department conferences.

Justice spent about $490,000 on food and beverages at the conferences — more than 10 percent of the $4.4 million total cost of the events.

In response, the Justice Department concurred with the IG's recommendations to more closely monitor costs.

The department hosted or participated in 1,832 conferences in 2008 and 2009, costing $121 million.

The IG's report said that at a Washington, D.C., legal conference, the department spent $4,200 on 250 muffins — or more than $16 apiece.

At another conference, the department's Office on Violence Against Women spent $65 per person at a lunch for 65 people. Coffee cost more than $1 an ounce. A snack break at the same conference cost $32 per person for Cracker Jack, popcorn and candy bars.

The report says that with service charges, taxes and indirect costs, many of the meals and refreshments at the conferences the IG examined appeared to be extravagant and wasteful and exceeded department cost limits.