The Internal Revenue Service now admits it made a mistake when it spent $60,000 in taxpayer money to produce a video parodying the 1960s Star Trek television series, along with a second Gilligan’s Island parody. The Star Trek segment was used to open a 2010 training and leadership conference, while the latter clip was used to avoid the cost of training employees in person.
Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., first asked the IRS to hand over copies of the videos in a Feb. 11 letter to Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller.
“It is important to determine whether and to what extent taxpayer resources were devoted to activities unrelated to your agency’s core functions,” Boustany wrote, claiming the Star Trek video “did not contain meaningful training content.”
Miller acknowledged the existence of both videos in his March 4 response along with the $60,000 price tag. A copy of the Star Trek parody surfaced on Friday.
The IRS said the video “was a well-intentioned, light-hearted introduction to an important conference” in a statement to the Associated Press.
The segment opens with lines similar to actor William Shatner’s original narration: “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise Y. Its never-ending mission: to seek out new tax forms, to explore strange new regulations, to boldly go where no government employee has gone before.”
The six-minute plot that follows is simple: The Enterprise must help the planet “No-tax” that is plagued with money laundering, tax evasion using off-planet accounts and alien identity theft–all due to a “lack of tax leaders.”
Famous Star Trek character Spock is on board along with Scotty in engineering, and another crew member doing his best impersonation of the Pavel Chekov character.
“Back in Russia, I dreamed one day I’d be rich and famous” he says in a rough attempt at a Russian accent.
“Me too,” says his fellow crew member. “That’s why I became a public servant.” The two conclude their exchange with a fist bump.
“The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars,” the agency told AP. “There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources.”