Muffins, Coins and Bicycles
Remember the scandal last year over the reports of the $16 muffin at a Justice Department conference? (Even though it turned out it wasn't really a $16 muffin.)
In the wake of the spate of stories about muffins and federal conference spending in general, the White House moved swiftly to order agencies to review their conference policies and practices. I wonder if that led to today's revelation that the General Services Administration had organized an event that involved spending $3,200 for a mind reader; $6,300 on a commemorative coin set in velvet boxes and $75,000 on a training exercise to build a bicycle.
At any rate, it's clear that the White House has a zero-tolerance policy for spending on conferences that could result in embarassing anecdotes like this. Unfortunately, that didn't stop another another headline-grabbing tale from emerging.
It'll be interesting to see if the White House will take further steps to curb conference spending, especially for the remainder of this election year. Right about now, the Obama administration probably just wants to get to November without another story alleging that bureaucrats are spending lavishly on event entertainment at a time of a national budget crisis.