The Department of Justice spent about $490,000 on food at 10 conferences held between Oct. 2007 and Sept. 2009, according to a DoJ inspector general audit, Bloomberg reported.
On the menu: $65 dinners, $76 lunches, $41 breakfasts, $16 muffins, $32 per person snacks at a single break and beef Wellington appetizers that cost $7.32 per serving. For a beverage break at one conference, attendees sipped on coffee and tea that went for up to $1.03 per ounce, making an 8-ounce drink $8.24.
“Some conferences featured costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks that we believe were indicative of wasteful or extravagant spending,” the report on Tuesday said.
The review found that the DoJ spent about $120 million on 1,832 conferences in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, the DoJ spent $73.3 million on conferences compared to $47.8 million in 2008. At the ten conferences reviewed in the audit, the department shelled out $4.4 million.
Those attending an August 2009 Executive Office for Immigration Review conference gobbled up the $16 muffins and had the chance to sample $10 cookies and brownies as well. Guests at a March 2009 conference of the Office on Violence Against Women ate Cracker Jacks, popcorn and candy bars at a single break that cost $32 per person. The $7.32 beef Wellington hors d’oeuvres were eaten by attendees of the February 2008 Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys conference.
The report followed up one from 2007 that showed the DoJ did not have proper policies and procedures in place to limit conference spending. One example featured in that audit was $5 Swedish meatballs. In response, the DoJ issued policies to control spending in 2008.
The DoJ agencies “did not adequately attempt to minimize conference costs as required by federal and DOJ guidelines,” Tuesday’s report stated.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa slammed the DoJ’s unappetizing report, saying that the department “appears to be blind to the economic realities our country is facing. People are outraged, and rightly so.”
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