Grassley: Budget Cuts Should Start With DOJ’s $16 Muffins

When the Super Committee starts making budget cuts, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) knows just where they should start: the Justice Department’s $16 muffins.

DOJ’s Inspector General on Tuesday released an audit of the agency’s spending on conference planning and food and beverage costs that highlighted some examples of wasteful spending in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, periods which spanned both the Bush and Obama administrations.

One example: The law enforcement agency spent $16 each on 250 muffins served at a D.C. legal conference held in August 2009.“$16 muffins and $600,000 for event planning services are what make Americans cynical about government and why they are demanding change,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday.

“The Justice Department appears to be blind to the economic realities our country is facing. People are outraged, and rightly so,” he said. “The Inspector General’s office just gave a blueprint for the first cuts that should be made by the super committee.”

Investigators also knocked DOJ for spending $5 per Swedish meatballs; $76 per person for a “Mission Dolores” lunch at a conference in San Francisco; $32 per person for an array of snack foods made up of Cracker Jacks, popcorn, and candy bars; and coffee that cost more than $1 per ounce, the equivalent of $8.24 for an eight ounce cup.

The Justice Department agreed with the recommendations made by the Inspector General’s office. Several policies and guidelines are being changed to prevent wasteful spending in the future, but the Inspector General found a few areas where their concerns were not yet resolved. The full report is available here.