Sunday, June 16, 2013

Party On, IRS!

Res Publica
Party On!
by David Trumbull -- June 14, 2013

Revisiting the 1992 motion picture Wayne's World on television the other night it struck me that there are adults, 21-year-olds, alive today who were not even born when Mike Myers' and Dana Carvey's homage to adolescent concupiscence first played on the big screens of movie houses. After a hard day at work it was pleasant to relax with a silly movie about people who party on, doing outrageous and stupid things, with no consequences -- you know, people like the employees of the Internal Revenue Service.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration last week release a report that IRS spent $4.1 million on a conference in Anaheim, California in 2010 that included questionable expenses for planning trips, outside speakers, video productions, and promotional items and gifts for IRS employees.

Examples of the management control weaknesses and questionable spending identified at the Anaheim Conference include:

  • IRS management did not use available internal personnel to assist in searching for the most cost-effective location as required by IRS policy. Instead, they relied on outside event planners who had no incentive to negotiate a favorable room rate for the IRS. Instead, the three hotels paid the event planners an estimated $133,000 commission based on the cost of rooms paid for by the IRS.

  • The IRS reported that it expended $50,187 on videos for the conference, but was unable to provide any details supporting this cost.

  • IRS management contracted with 15 outside speakers for presentations at a total cost of $135,350. Costs for outside speakers included a $17,000 fee for a keynote speaker whose presentation included creating six paintings of famous people to reinforce his message of finding creative solutions to challenges. Two of the paintings were given away at the conference, three were donated to charity, and one was lost, according to IRS management. Another keynote speaker was paid $27,500, which included a $2,500 fee authorized for first class airfare.

  • IRS employees made three planning trips at a cost of approximately $35,800 prior to the conference.

  • The IRS also paid over $30,000 for 45 IRS employees who reside in the local area to stay at the hotels and incur per diem expenses while at the conference.

  • Numerous gifts/promotional items were provided to attendees at an estimated cost of more than $64,000.

According to information on the IRS website, the mission of the IRS is to "Provide America's taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all" -- NOT!

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