While the sequester is a terrible way to cut spending, failing to differentiate between useful and wasteful government spending, it is bringing more attention areas where spending could be cut. The IRS is under attack for spending $60,000 of taxpayer’s money for the above Star Trek parody and a second video based on Gilligan’s Island. It begins:
“Space: the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Y
Its never-ending mission is to seek out new tax forms
To explore strange new regulations
To boldly go where no government employee has gone before.”
CBS News filed a Freedom of Information request asking for the video after the IRS earlier refused to turn over a copy to the congressional committee that oversees tax issues: House Ways and Means. According to committee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), the video was produced in the IRS’s own television studio in New Carrollton, MD. The studio may have cost taxpayers more than $4 million dollars last year alone.
According to a statement from the IRS, the “Star Trek” video (see above) was created to open a 2010 IRS training and leadership conference.
“Back in Russia, I dreamed someday I’d be rich and famous,” says one crew member in the parody.
“Me too,” agrees another. “That’s why I became a public servant.”
And the two fist bump.
A separate skit based on the television show “Gilligan’s Island” was also recorded, but the IRS did not provide that video. The IRS told Congress the cost of producing the two videos was thought to be about $60,000 dollars.
IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller said in a statement that one of the two videos was played in 400 locations and saved taxpayers $1.5 million over what it would have cost to train employees in person.
I have no problem with the idea of making training videos which save money as opposed to training employees in person but I fail to see how the above video would be of any value. The idea is promote the value of the IRS to society by showing an alien planet degenerating into anarchy without a good tax collection system. It fails to do a good job of presenting this message. It also has terrible acting (as might be expected from IRS employees) and looks amateurish compared to many other pieces of fan videos available on line.
I also fail to see how the IRS can justify refusing to turn a copy of this over to the House Ways and Means Committee, requiring CBS to use the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy.
The IRS agrees that making this video was a mistake.