The Internal Revenue Service has issued a public apology for a 2010 training video parodying the television series Star Trek which cost about $60,000. The money used to fund the video was from United States taxpayers, and it first premiered at a leadership and training conference. The video features employees of the IRS portraying characters from the TV show in an effort to teach how to protect against identity theft.
The video was recorded at the IRS in Maryland, and the money went into an elaborate set similar to the control room featured Star Trek on a starship named "Enterprise." The individuals in this video are traveling to planet Notax, where alien identity theft is apparently a dilemma, to "go boldly where no governmental employee has gone before."
Congressman Charles Boustany (R-La.), who chairs the Ways and Means committee’s subcommittee on Oversight, reproached production of this video. "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. The IRS admitted as much when it disclosed that it nolonger produces such videos."
The IRS recognized the video was a mistake in a statement. "The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars. There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources."
The IRS further stated that the video "was a well-intentioned, light-hearted introduction to an important conference during a difficult period for the IRS."
The $60,000 also went towards a parody of Gilligan’s Island, but Congress reasoned that this video was justifiable for the leadership and training conference and, therefore, did not need to be released to the public. The majority of the funds went to the Star Trek video.
The IRS statement notes that this video was made three years ago and claims that, "the IRS has made numerous changes in this area. A video of this type would not be made today."
Since the video’s debut, the agency has since increased jurisdiction over the operation of its production equipment to "ensure that all IRS videos are handled in a judicious manner that makes wise use of taxpayer funds while ensuring a tone and theme appropriate for the nation’s tax system."