Back in September, the U.S. Justice Department took a lot of heat for reportedly spending $16 on muffins at a conference.
The department's internal watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, noted the $16 muffin price in a lengthy report that scrutinized DOJ conference expenses, right down to the cost-per-ounce of coffee.
Critics assailed the department for wasteful spending. A Washington Post reporter went on a hunt for a $16 muffin.
After the publication of the report, the Justice Department said it received more information about the food and beverage costs for the conference in question, held by the Executive Office for Immigration Review at the Capital Hilton. Hotel representatives at the time publicly denied the muffins were $16 each.
Now, the OIG has issued a revised report, striking the $16 muffin. The OIG’s explanation:
“After further review of the newly provided documentation and information, and after discussions with the Capital Hilton and the Department, we determined that our initial conclusions concerning the itemized costs of refreshments at the EOIR conference were incorrect. We therefore deleted references to any incorrect costs and revised the report based on these additional documents and information.”
Representatives from the hotel, according to the revised OIG report, produced documents that showed individual refreshment items were not as expensive as DOJ initially reported. Apparently DOJ investigators did not have those documents at the time the first audit was published.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review confirmed with the inspector general's office that it had the same documents the hotel had provided. "The EOIR stated it inadvertently did not produce these documents to us during the audit," according to the report.
Cynthia Schnedar, the acting inspector general, said in the preface of the newly revised expense report that “we hope our correction of the record” for one of 10 conferences included in the report “does not detract from the more significant conclusion” that DOJ expenses must be more carefully managed.