The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Another IRS Box-Office Hit!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


We’ve heard a lot about the IRS’s over-the-top targeting and harassment of conservative and tea party groups and how the agency delayed the groups’ applications for non-profit status.  But the hits just keep coming for the IRS.  This past weekend, we were treated to the spectacle of IRS employees doing a tax-payer funded line dance in preparation for a 2010 conference that was held in Anaheim, California.  This episode and other wasteful conference expenditures will be the target of a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, June 6, entitled "Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses.”

You might recall reports of unwarranted spending on conferences within other government agencies, such as at the General Services Administration in 2010 or the Social Security Administration in 2009.  In response to these outrageous examples of wasting tax dollars, Chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman in 2012 about the agency’s spending on its conferences and asked for a report on the excess spending by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Chairman Issa stated the Thursday hearing will focus on the IG's report .  According to the IG, between 2010 and 2012, the IRS had a minimum of 220 conferences at a cost of approximately $50 million. 

At one conference, a manager’s meeting, the IRS spent $4 million.  The event was planned without negotiating lower room rates, directly opposite to government contracting protocols.  Some IRS employees stayed in suites that cost $1,500 to $3,500 per night.  Furthermore, 15 outside speakers for the conference were paid a total of $135,000.  One speaker received $17,000 for their lecture on “leadership through art” presentation.

In addition to the line dance video that cost $1,600 to make, other videos include Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island parodies that were produced at about $60,000 for both.  Thousands of tax dollars were used to create and build the set for the Star Trek “movie.”   The Star Trek video was used as a training mechanism for a 2010 conference while the Gilligan’s Island video was used at a 2011 conference.

So remind me, why are federal agencies crying the blues about the sequester cuts when this kind of wasteful spending occurs regularly with our tax dollars?

No doubt the IG’s report will be an eye-opener.  So stay tuned for the hearing this Thursday, it should be a summer block-buster!

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