Video: NASA spends over $62,000 on seminar snacks

  1. Closed captioning of: NASA spends over $62,000 on seminar snacks

    >>> our lemg slators. eric cantor said he had been tart and cited democrats .

    >> just recently, i have been directly threatened. a bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in richmond this week.

    >> it turns out the bullet that hit the congressman's virginia office was actually a stray. which may say something about richmond . richmond police now say that the bullet in question was fired into the air, and just happened to strike the office window on its way back down. you can't make that up.

    >>> next up, feel free to file this one under ironies if that one wasn't worthy. at a nasa seminar for procurement officials, officials who work for nasa , a seminar for those who buy things on behalf of the space agency , they use your tax money of course. nasa ponied up $66 per person, per day, for bagels, cookies and juice. total cost ? for bagels, cookies and juice? more than $62,000. this, according to the office of the inspector-general. nasa promising to review its spending policies. hope the bagels were good.

    >>> finally, kudos today for to the aingely can church, offering spiritual comfort to voters who are almost as disenchanted with their politicians as we are the uk government has been rocked by scandal, a bad economy and a record deficit. so the official church there is publishing new prayers for voters, in their upcoming elections. one prayer says quote, watch over our nation at election time. that truth may prevail over distortion, wisdom triumph or recklessness and the concerns of every person be heard. that's a nice prayer. another says, protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism, and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling, that serves the common good of all. honestly, sometimes our government seems so corrupt and broken, that only faith in democracy can keep it going . faith of course the power of the ballot box , a free press with the internet to keep it in check. and maybe a constitutional amendment taking money out of politics.

    >>> anyway, still ahead, we've got

updated 3/26/2010 4:11:24 PM ET 2010-03-26T20:11:24

The nation's space agency paid the out-of-this-world price of $66 a person a day for bagels, cookies and juice at a conference, a new report found.

The subject of the NASA conference? It was a training session for its procurement officials — the people who do the buying with taxpayer funds.

During the three-day conference, the 317 attendees snacked on "light refreshments" of soda, coffee, fruit, bagels and cookies at a cost of $62,611, according to a NASA Inspector General report. That's $66 a day per person.

And that wasn't the only problem. The NASA financial watchdog criticized the financially strapped space agency's spending on conferences in general. The inspector general said NASA didn't price-shop to get cheaper locations for conferences and that NASA's spending on food and drinks was "excessive."

The agency needs to come up with firm rules and conference costs, like the Justice Department, the inspector general recommended in the report released late Wednesday.

NASA promised it would come up with better conference spending rules.

The training conference in December 2008 at a Hilton hotel in Baltimore took the cake for most expensive per person of the eight conferences examined. The conference cost NASA a total of $495,173 for 317 people, a cost of more than $1,500 per person. But the eye-opener was the coffee and snack costs.

Another conference, on aeronautics in Atlanta, spent $535,149 for 650 people. NASA provided some meals for all attendees at a cost of $58,415. NASA could have saved nearly $50,000 if the agency gave per diem money to just NASA employees and contractors — instead of everyone attending — and told them to buy their own meals for the three days, the inspector general said.

When asked why NASA spends so much on snacks, a NASA spokesman referred to the agency's response in the report, which didn't explain the costs but promised to do better. In that response, NASA deputy chief financial officer Terry Bowie defended the practice of buying snacks at conferences, saying it would keep attendees from wandering away. But Bowie said next month NASA will define "reasonable cost limits" for snacks at conferences.

And what's reasonable?

That happened to be the topic of a session at the Baltimore conference — how to determine a reasonable price.

"These are people who should have known better in the first place," said Tom Schatz, president of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. "This is the lesson that should have been learned before the conference, not during or after."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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