IRS Spent $50 Million in Two Years on 'Conferences'
A report to be released on Tuesday investigating expenditures by the Internal Revenue Service will reveal that $50 million was lavished on some 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.
In one case alone, the report finds that the IRS spent $4 million on a conference for 2,600 IRS employees held in Anaheim, California in August of 2010.
According to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) this is an "abuse of taxpayer dollars."
The website of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reports that, "contrary to established government contracting practices, the outside event planners did not negotiate lower room rates and instead focused on 'perks' for IRS employees. Several IRS employees stayed in presidential suites, which rate at $1,500-$3,500 per night. Moreover, 15 outside speakers were paid $135,000--including one speaker who lectured on 'leadership through art' for $17,000."
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Treasury Department told the media that "increased scrutiny on all bureau travel and conferences and instituted stringent safeguards and policies" are being undertaken.
Additionally, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, a former official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, praised the Obama administration for trying to put an end to such spending.
"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," Werfel said.
"Taxpayers should take comfort that a conference like this would not take place today," Werfel added.
But appearing on CNN's State of the Union, Representative Issa disputed claims that the such over-the-top spending is being reigned in.
"Understand that some of the things that they're saying, 'Well, this wouldn't happen again,' [but] they would still happen again,’" Issa said.
On April 20, 2012 a letter the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman pointing out that the General Services Administration had "failed to heed the president's message and to learn from the mistakes of the [Social Security Administration]" over its "wasteful" and "excessive" conference expenditures. Issa's committee demanded the IRS release further documents to account for its own conference expenditures.
The Committee will also hold a hearing on the government waste report on June 6.