So the $16 muffin is back in the news as the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General made updates to its previous report by correcting the record, and bowing to the sensationalist media coverage that yes, the muffin itself did not cost $16.
Correcting the record is a good thing. However, what the sensationalist media forgets, and what seems to be ignored, is the fact that the DOJ, in addition to the federal government itself, is not doing enough due diligence to ensure that the these expenditures are in the best interest of the organization or that they are being good stewards of taxpayer funds. The report correction goes on further to say that all-inclusive lunches cost $76. Will this be the subject of the next series of reports?
Putting aside the full court press of public relations activity by the hospitality industry, how does government know they are getting the best value? Having done this myself over the years, I have always tried to negotiate better pricing for conference space, refreshments, meals, etc. by playing venues off one another to get the best deal for my needs. I do not doubt that the venues are being flexible to get my business, but how can the government buyers say with a straight face they too are getting the best prices? Further, what options are being explored to find more cost effective means of holding these conferences and training (i.e. videoconferencing, other federal spaces, etc.)?
It is this willful ignorance that explains why we can continue to expect the inability to create budgets, more focus on nonsense, and putting aside effective governance and accountability for the foreseeable future.