June 3 2013

Fun and Games at the IRS!

Charlotte Hays

Whoda thunk IRS agents were such big partiers?

Yes, it appears that the Internal Revenue Service is not only harassing people who hold views similar to mine but that it is lavishing millions of dollars in taxpayer money on…IRS get-togethers (here, and here).

The bureaucrats have whopped it up to the tune of $50 million at conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012. The Treasury Department's inspector general is expected to release a report revealing this tomorrow.

The IRS already has issued a statement saying it "has already taken aggressive and dramatic action to reduce conference spending." In other words: Shut up, you stingy taxpayers!

The Associated Press reports:

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.

Of course, conferences operate under the theory that all business and no play will make for a very dull time. Conferences include some “workshops” but they also have a multitude of "fun" activities and perks:

[S]ome 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.

This doesn’t make me any feel less we taxpayers have been had:

IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said Sunday that spending on large agency conferences with 50 or more participants fell from $37.6 million in the 2010 budget year to $4.9 million in 2012. The government's fiscal year begins Oct. 1 the previous calendar year.

Government workers have become a special class. Much of what they do with our money goes undetected. We generally solace ourselves by saying that the money spent on fun and games such as these conferences is too small to make a difference in our overal financial picture. But I am beginning to wonder.

We know that the General Services Administration also wantonly spent taxpayer money on conferences and perks. These are just two agencies in a vast federal government. If a lot of agencies are wasting our money in this fashion, it probably adds up to a significant number.

To paraphrase the late senator Everett Dirksen, $50 million here and $50 million there and pretty soon it adds up to real money.

Also: why does any federal agency need to have conferences in luxurious places anyway?

Ever heard of Go to Meeting (“Do More. Travel Less”)?

And why should a "public servant" stay in the presidential suite, something the vast majority of us taxpayers will never do?

If recent scandals in Washington aren’t a clarion call to reduce the size of government, I don’t know what it is going to take. 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus