U.S. Justice Department spending on conferences is again under fire, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) asking Attorney General Eric Holder to account for $58 million in spending on conferences in 2012, saying the cost of the trips is too high. reports The Hill. Coburn included a 28-page spreadsheet of those 2012 conferences costing more than $100,000, including $500,000 for 30 DOJ employees to travel to Indonesia, nearly $200,000 for four DOJ employees to attend a seminar in Senegal, and $100,000 on a summit in Northern Mariana Islands that did not include a single DOJ attendee.
A DOJ spokeswoman said the agency “strives for cost-effective government and has implemented strict controls on conference spending and travel.” The conferences Coburn cited were important to national security and law enforcement training, the department said. DOJ conference spending has been criticized since an Inspector General’s report erroneously said that the agency paid $16 per muffin at a Washington, D.C., event.