It may not quite be “Let them eat cake,” but the new poster child for government waste has been discovered, and it’s the Department of Justice’s $16 muffins.
According to reports after an audit of spending on conferences for the last few years, multiple costs were broken down to provide a better understanding of where the taxpayer money was going. One line item, according to the DOJ Office of Inspector General report — $16 a piece muffins and $10 a piece cookies.
Were those just really good cookies? Is the government really throwing around our money just like that? Not at all, reports Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. As anyone who has ever booked a conference knows, the “food costs” are seldom the actual cost of the item itself, but also the cost of set up, break down, gratuity, taxes, utensils and other various necessities that go along with the food being served. As Drum says, “I’m surprised DOJ even got that much of a breakdown. Far more commonly, your event person negotiates what kind of refreshments you’ll get, and the invoice ends up looking something like this: Refreshment table (bev/morn/aft) — 5 days………………..$39,500.”
Like NASA’s $10,000 toilet seat or the Million Dollar Space pen, these government spending myths blossom and proliferate regardless of who is in office. But as always, the accusations cause administrations to jump to alert and crackdown on anything that could be seen as government excess.
Next time maybe they should hit the drive-thru instead.
Photo credit: Rob Pongsajapan, via wikimedia commons