It is not very often that the American people can literally watch the fruits of government spending. About $1,600 of taxpayer money went to the production of a video of IRS employees learning new dance moves to the “Cupid Shuffle.”
The IRS released the video to Congress last Friday at the request of Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) of the House Ways and Means Committee. The video was one of several produced to be shown at a 2010 training and leadership conference. The other two videos, one a parody of Star Trek and the other a parody of Gilligan’s Island, are estimated to have cost $60,000.
The Star Trek parody depicts IRS employees dressed as familiar characters such as Captain Kirk and Spock traveling to a planet named “Notax” to address reports of money laundering and bribery among others. Lawmakers overseeing the IRS found that the video lacked “legitimate training value,” and the IRS has since apologized for this poor judgment and poor use of resources.
On the other hand, the IRS claims that the Gilligan’s Island parody actually saved taxpayers approximately $1.5 million by training employees through the video rather than through face-to-face interactions.
In hopes of avoiding even more criticism and scrutiny, acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel has already distanced himself from the past, denouncing the conference expenditures as “an unfortunate vestige from a prior era.” However, the American public can only hope that with continued criticism and scrutiny, there can be more accountability and responsible spending.