The Internal Revenue Service says it regrets making two $60,000 training videos in 2010 that parodied the popular TV shows, “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island.”
The IRS videos are the latest instance of lawmakers cracking down on expensive parody films made and used for training exercises by federal agencies to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
In October the head of human resources for the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned after an inspector general’s report found that the agency spent $6.1 million on two weeklong conferences, one of which included $49,516 to produce a parody video of the late-Gen. George S. Patton.
Chairman of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee Charles Boustany (R-La.) blasted the IRS’s videos that were recently discovered, telling the AP that they were a “frivolous” waste of money.
“There is nothing more infuriating to a taxpayer than to find out the government is using their hard-earned dollars in a way that is frivolous,” said Boustany. “The IRS admitted as much when it disclosed that it no longer produces such videos.”
The IRS told the AP that, "A video of this type would not be made today."
“The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars,” the agency said in a statement to the AP. “There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources.”
The six-minute “Star Trek” video made in Maryland was shown to agency employees at a conference in 2010. In the video, IRS workers are meticulously dressed as characters from the popular TV show and are flying a staged space craft towards the planet, “Notax.”
Lawmakers overseeing the IRS decided that the "Gilligan's Island" video contained legitimate training value, but that the “Star Trek” video did not. They subsequently released the “Star Trek” video to the public, but have kept the “Gilligan’s Island” video private.
The IRS said the “Gilligan’s Island” video trained 1,900 employees at the agency’s 400 Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which saved about $1.5 million as compared to the price it would take to train the employees in person.