Feeling Sorry for the IRS

The IRS is getting in trouble for making a Star Trek parody video as the opening to their annual agent training conference. Apparently their videomakers usually are busy making training videos for all the new agents and continuing-education videos for the old ones, and they do all this on 4 million dollars a year. (How many training videos do they make? Probably a lot.) But they made one little teambuilding video and are now getting dinged for it.

Weirdly, the reporters on this story are making it sound like no private company ever does this. Which is untrue, of course. Making the odd video or doing skits is normal and beneficial: particularly ones where the top brass allow themselves to look silly, and particularly ones which use injokes to tell the normal staff that the bosses are aware of their frustrations. I don’t know whether this video managed to work effectively, but then, I don’t work for the most hated agency in the country or have crazy hours during tax time.

Now, did the IRS brass spend too much money on sets and CGI? That’s another question. It’s not a really “ritzy” video, but it’s clear that the videomakers either made or glommed onto a significant amount of Trek-related stuff. (And if they actually paid for the sounds and music, I bet that’s where the budget went. Crikey!)

OTOH, the training videos and computer training at my workplace (which is a very big corporation) amount to hundreds of videos and computer tests a year, including ones made every week to update managers. (They’re supposed to update us too, but in reality, this doesn’t happen much. If there’s time for a team meeting and time to watch a video, we get updated.) They have to be spending a huge chunk of moolah.

I’m a bit disturbed by the IRS’ sf ideas, but that’s pretty standard for workplace videos too. People come up with some really creepy comedy ideas, which is why short videos work better than long ones. This one goes long, probably to include all their major department heads. But the flying IRS building is funny.

So is it really a boondoggle, or is the IRS just being scapegoated for legislators’ convenience?

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