Justice watchdog issues corrected report on muffin scandal

In yet another wrinkle to the tale of the $16 muffins once thought to have been served at a professional conference, the Justice Department's inspector general on Friday issued a revised version of a September report that had prompted front-page coverage and outrage over what was presented as flagrant waste in government.

"After publication of the original report, we received additional documents and information concerning the food and beverage costs" at the conference held in August 2009 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, acting Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar said in a statement. "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 . . . conference were incorrect. We therefore deleted references to any incorrect costs and revised the report based on these additional documents and information. We also included a preface explaining the circumstances of our revisions."

The revised report, she added, supersedes the original report.

When the first news reports appeared in September alleging that Justice employees had been served -- and Justice accountants had approved payment for -- breakfast muffins at $16.80 apiece, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for some employees to be fired. He continued to characterize the report as a "wake-up call" on wasteful spending on conferences.

The day after the original report came out, the Obama administration ordered agencies to review conference-related activities and expenses, and Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement calling the alleged Justice spending "troubling."

The IG in the new report said, "We hope that our correction of the record for this one conference among the 10 conferences we reviewed does not detract from the more significant conclusion in our report: government conference expenditures must be managed carefully, and the department can do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and accounted for properly."

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