YOUR SAY: Partying on the taxpayers dime

Special to The TelegraphJune 12, 2013 

I, like many, are appalled about the waste and abuse government agencies commit each year under the guise of “training conferences.” I do not believe that the GSA and IRS are the only agencies doing this.

In 2012 Congress passed legislation limiting the amount of money that could be spent on a training conference to $500,000. The legislation does not go far enough. All that it does is limit the amount of money that can be spent on a single training conference. I do not know if the reported cost of the IRS training conferences includes airline tickets, car rental and reimbursement for food.

By now, upper echelon senior executives have initiated polices to limit the cost of a single training conference so they can claim they are following the law. But I highly suspect that some enterprising mid-level employee is interpreting the legislation to mean that a government agency can hold as many training conferences a year as they desire, and at any location, as long as the cost is less than $500,000. And I am sure training conference planners are inviting the appropriate senior executives to attend with the inducement of a luxury suite at the government’s per diem rate.

Since these government employees are spending my tax dollars, I do not think the 2012 legislation is adequate. All off site training conferences should be held within 20 miles of a work site and facility rental fees should not exceeded $3,000.

With modern technology and communication services government employees from different work sites can electronically participate in a training conference without having to travel to high-end hotels or resorts. The cost and manpower to produce in-house training videos based on government employees playing TV characters should be prohibited and team building exercises should be related to work.

Also, while these government employees are attending and traveling to and from these off-site training conferences who is doing their work? The next time you contact the IRS with a question and are put on hold or told that an agent will contact you later, remember your tax dollars are paying their salaries while they are off and about learning how to provide better service.

I am amazed at the lack of moral fortitude of the senior executives of government agencies for not expressing outrage or condemning this prevailing practice. But if one is staying in a $3,500 a night room and getting free food and drink, I can see where they would not have the time to monitor the activities of the training conference participants.

I recommend we contact our congressmen and demand they repeal the current legislation and institute that training conferences are for training and not a party junket that taxpayers have to fund.

Jim Costello is a resident of Perry.

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