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By now you have probably heard that an audit of the Department of Justice by the Inspector General says that taxpayer money was wasted on overpriced food and drinks. At one conference, the DOJ spent $4200 on 250 muffins–that’s about $16 a muffin. But what did the report actually say?

Considering the EOIR reported that at least 534 people received refreshments at its 2009 Legal Training Conference in Washington, D.C., it spent an average of $14.74 per attendee per day on food and beverages—just above the $14.72 JMD limit for refreshments. We credit the EOIR for implementing the following controls to reduce food and beverage costs: (1) it provided just refreshments and not full meals, (2) it ordered fewer refreshments than the total number of reported attendees, and (3) it received 15 gallons of coffee, 30 gallons of iced tea, and 200 pieces of fruit for free. However, many individual food and beverage items listed on conference invoices and paid by the EOIR were very costly. The EOIR spent $4,200 on 250 muffins and $2,880 on 300 cookies and brownies. By itemizing these costs, we determined that, with service and gratuity, muffins cost over $16 each and cookies and brownies cost almost $10 each.


1.What controls were in place that the report mentioned?

2. What is the point that Drum is trying to make?

3. Compare this article to the video.  Discuss the situation in terms of variances and budgets that you use in managerial or cost accounting.



Drum, K. (2011). The Great $16 Muffin Myth. Mother Jones, Sep. 21 (Retrievable online at

CBS News VIDEO (2011). Audit finds DOJ Pays Big Bucks for Snacks, Sep. 21.