Two pop-culture parody videos produced by the Internal Revenue Service have attracted the attention of Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA), who has demanded an “accounting of all costs associated” with the projects.
According to The Hill, Boustany, who chairs the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight, sent a letter to IRS officials demanding a copy of a skit spoofing Gilligan’s Island and a longer parody based on Star Trek.
Boustany accused the IRS of refusing to comply with his first request to see the videos, which reportedly cost $60,000 to make at the agency’s in-house studio.
“Given the IRS’s requests for additional resources, it is important to determine whether and to what extent taxpayer resources were devoted to activities unrelated to your agency’s core functions,” Boustany said in the letter. “A response, including copies of the videos was due by the IRS on February 19. I am writing today because your response, dated March 4, 2013, was materially incomplete.”
In that response, acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the videos were used for training purposes in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and that they were money-savers for the agency.
“The 2011 series was used to train taxpayer assistance employees in approximately 400 locations across the United States, saving an estimated $1.5 million as compared to the potential costs to train these employees in person,” Miller wrote. “We believe the combined production costs, including participant staff hour costs, for the 2010 video segment and the introductory segment of the 2011 training series were approximately $60,000.”
Miller reiterated his agency’s offer to make the videos available to Boustany for viewing.
[Image by Jane Dominguez via Flickr Creative Commons]