The Internal Revenue Service is in more hot water, this time for excessive conference spending. A report by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General, due to be released on June 4, calls out the IRS for spending a total of $50 million on 220 employee conferences between 2010 and 2012, according to news reports.
In one example, the IRS spent $4 million on a 2010 manager’s conference for 2,600 people in Anaheim, Calif., according to a release by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will hold a hearing on the report on June 6. Contrary to established government contracting practices, the outside event planners did not negotiate lower room rates but had “perks” for IRS employees, including stays in presidential suites, stated the Oversight Committee release. Additionally, multiple videos were produced for the conference, one called the “cupid shuffle,” which featured employees learning the dance as part of preparation for the Anaheim management conference.
“This conference is an unfortunate vestige from a prior era. While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred,” said acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Taxpayers should take comfort that a conference like this would not take place today. Sweeping new spending restrictions have been put in place at the IRS, and travel and training expenses have dropped more than 80 percent since 2010. Similar large-scale meetings did not take place in 2011, 2012, or 2013,” he added.