It has been a tough year for the IRS. In May, a major report revealed that the IRS had unfairly targeted conservative groups, much to the chagrin of Republicans and Independents. In June, allegations from a Treasury Department watchdog were officially released to the public, condemning the IRS for excessive spending and questionable training videos.
Excessive Spending and Questionable Training Videos
A recent official report shows that over the past few years, the Internal Revenue Service spent nearly $50 Million dollars on over 200 conferences and training activities. According to NBC, the Obama administration has already been on the defensive regarding the topic of departmental spending – pushing for across the board cuts. Obama and his budget office set a mandate for government departments to keep conference budgets below $500,000. Time.com says 13 of the conferences held by the IRS in 2010 violated that mandate, which has angered a public eager to pounce on examples of a bloated bureaucracy.
Some of the expenses on the list include a number of training videos that spoofed tv shows like Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek, and the song Cupid Shuffle by the artist Cupid. This put newly appointed IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel in a tough spot. To get an idea of what he’s been on Capitol Hill trying to explain, take a peek at this Star-Trek-style training video:
compliments of TrekMovie
Lucky for Werfel, he’s only been in the acting commissioner position for a couple weeks, giving him an escape from what is unanimously being described as a “mistake” and an “embarrassment.” The videos have gone viral, and for good reason – they’re terrible. But according to the Treasury Department report, that Star Trek training vid cost $60,000.
The IRS is one of many departments that is required to act with calculated precision, especially since the passing of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights III Act of 1998. For the IRS, it’s even more so a vital requirement to be squeaky clean because it’s detested by virtually all Americans. We are in the midst of a philosophical war over the size of government and the effectiveness of a big federal bureaucracy, which means that any missteps will be exploited in the mainstream to the full extent. This is bad publicity for the IRS and Obama on top of really bad publicity from the past month, which is frustrating because it could have been entirely avoided if there was some better decision making. We need better leadership in this country, self-imposed improvements to efficiency, and across the board watchdog checks-and-balances.