Trustworthy, efficient IRS spent $50 million partying GSA-style

posted at 10:01 pm on June 3, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Fifty million on conferences over three years, but Danny Werfel would like you to know they’re not doing it anymore, so yay?

The Internal Revenue Service, already under fire after officials disclosed that the agency targeted conservative groups, faces increased scrutiny because of an inspector general’s report that it spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.

The report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general about conference spending is set to be released Tuesday. The department issued a statement Sunday saying the administration “has already taken aggressive and dramatic action to reduce conference spending.”

Werfel called the conferences an “unfortunate vestige from a prior era.” Aww, yeah:

The conference spending included $4 million for an August 2010 gathering in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency did not negotiate lower room rates, even though that is standard government practice, according to a statement by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Instead, some of the 2,600 attendees received benefits, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites that normally cost $1,500 to $3,500 per night. In addition, 15 outside speakers were paid a total of $135,000 in fees, with one paid $17,000 to talk about “leadership through art,” the House committee said.

Oh, and that IRS “Star Trek” parody we covered in March? Along with another training video, it cost $60K to produce, and was presented at the lavish conference referenced above:

During the conference, employees watched two training videos starring division employees that cost at least $60,000 to produce, according to the audit’s estimates.
The first video is a parody of the “Star Trek” television and movie franchise and stars division employees discussing how they might identify and address allegations of tax fraud. Aides briefed on the audit said employees paid for Star Trek uniforms they wear in the video, but the agency paid for the construction of an elaborate mock-up of the bridge of the starship Enterprise, the vessel used to transport the show’s characters.

They also did the Cupid Shuffle, which I totally endorse for everyone in their private lives, but you can do it for free with no problem at all. And, now the Cupid Shuffle has been sullied by this embarrassing video.

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