Lighten up on the IRS training videos

The political class is in horror that videos are used in training events and that it costs money to produce training videos. How frightening! How wasteful!

The furor coming from DC and the media would have you think spending 60 grand for two videos is the crime of the century.

If you’re looking for waste in federal spending, search the Internet for 60 seconds and you will find dozens of examples each of which is thousands of times bigger than this fabricated fiasco.

Time to lighten up folks.

Check these out:




(links – and

Is the Star Trek video roll-your-eyes and groan out loud funny? Yes.

Is it an entertaining spoof of the Star Trek series? Yes.

Cheesy? Yeah.

Campy? You bet.

Are the inside jokes good? Yes. Very good.

At the same time, is it a lighthearted way to open a training session for a few hundred people per event? Yes.

Is it an easily repeatable opener for 40 different training events provided to IRS staff in 2010? You bet.  (Hmm… I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved by having events in 40 locations instead of flying 1,900 people to one event? ‘Spose it saved over a million bucks?)

Did it give IRS staff something funny to laugh at or groan about or analyze for the technical accuracy related to the Star Trek genre during their training days or otherwise lighten up the training? Absolutely.

Getting attendees of a training event energized, engaged, and focused on the learning objectives is a priority goal of event planners. These videos would do that quite well.

Reported costs are about $60K for two videos running about 22 minutes. That’s about $2,700 per minute of the final production.

For those who are huffing and puffing about the extravagance, please provide the per minute cost of videos used at training events hosted by the Big 4 accounting firms or Fortune 500 companies. Please provide the per attendee cost of a conference presented 40 times across the country.

For those furious at the so-called waste, please provide the cost, listed by each congressional representative and senator, of junkets taken during spring break. Make sure the is full absorption accounting for the cost.

After listing the amounts by representative, please total the cost for the entire Congress and calculate that amount as a multiple of the cost of the training videos. You can round to the nearest 1,000. (Did this week’s junkets cost us 5,000 times, or maybe 20,000 times, the cost of the videos?)

Looks to me like the Star Trek video is a pretty good use of taxpayer money.

The second video isn’t as funny. It also contains multiple segments totaling about 16 minutes of material. Looks like it would be used to introduce multiple sections of a training class. There is substantial training and education inside the video. Provides a cutesy theme for an entire conference. Also a good use of taxpayer money.

Oh, speaking of inside jokes, while the opening credits are rolling, you see the actor’s photos and stage name (Gillian, Skipper, etc). Where you would otherwise see their real name, there is a block that says “name redacted.” Superb!

There are many things for which we could criticize the IRS. Ask any CPA today (with April 15 only 3 weeks away) and you can get a long list.

These training videos ought not be on any such list.

Lighten up. There are far more serious things in D.C. that actually warrant outrage with costs that have 3 or 4 more zeros.

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