One possible reason we’re broke: US Justice Department agencies like to spend extravagantly when it comes to conferences, to the tune of providing $16 muffins at one. (No, that is not a typo.) An audit released today found that the “costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks” provided at some conferences are “indicative of wasteful … spending." You don’t say?
More examples from Bloomberg: One conference featured beef Wellington appetizers at $7.32 per serving; another racked up $32 per person in a single break that offered Cracker Jacks, popcorn, and candy bars. The Justice Department’s inspector general did the review, which looked at 10 conferences held between October 2007 and September 2009, as a follow-up to one from 2007 that uncovered similar results (Swedish meatballs at $5 per meatball). New policies and procedures instituted in 2008 were meant to control spending—yet 2009 conferences cost $73.3 million, compared to $47.8 million the year prior.