WHAT: At a three-day training session for NASA procurement officers — the people who spend taxpayer money on the space agency’s buying — the 317 attendees snacked on “light refreshments” of soda, coffee, fruit, bagels and cookies at a cost of $62,611, or $66 a day per person. The Baltimore Hilton conference in 2008 cost NASA more than $1,500 per person for a total of $495,173. One session topic was “How to determine a reasonable price.”
HOW WE KNEW: A new report from NASA’s inspector general criticized the financially strapped space agency’s spending on meetings. The inspector general said NASA did not price-shop to find cheaper locations for conferences, and NASA’s spending on food and drink was “excessive.”
WHAT’S BEING DONE: The inspector general recommended that NASA come up with firm rules about conference costs, as the Justice Department has done. NASA officials promised to put in place better controls on conference spending.