In another repercussion of the erroneous report of $16 muffins being served at Justice Department conferences, 23 major criminal-justice organizations have written to Attorney General Eric Holder protesting a new Justice Department rule prohibiting the use of federal funds for food and beverages at federally-funded meetings. The groups contend that the change will not actually save money because hotels will raise the costs of room rentals and other services to compensate for the loss of food income.
The groups argue that providing refreshments and working lunches are not luxuries but make meetings more efficient by allowing business to be conducted over food rather than having conference participants take long meal breaks. “Without a working lunch, the training event may need to be extended,” thus raising the overall cost of the session, the groups contend. Because the Justice rule change was effective immediately, the groups say they may incur cancellation penalties for events for which contracts were signed long ago. Signers of the letter included the National Criminal Justice Association, Justice Research and Statistics Association, American Probation and Parole Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, and National Association of Attorneys General. Spokesperson Sabra Horne of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs said her agency would study the groups’ concerns.