Taxpayer money being used on gifts for federal employees


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Updated: 6/27/2013 4:57 pm Published: 6/27/2013 4:56 pm


Your tax money is being squandered on "swag."

A review of federal audits by FOX23’s Scott Macfarlane found a series of controversial purchases by government agencies for government workers.

FOX23 found trinkets, toys and tokens given to employees that attend expensive conferences and training sessions.

IRS employees did more than line dance at a 2010 government conference in Anaheim.

They got goodies, too, including notebooks and gift bags.

An agency official, Faris Fink, would later tell Congress, ‘It’s embarrassing and I apologize.”

The Veterans Affairs Department didn't just stage two conferences near Disney World in 2011; they spent $6 million dollars doing so. That included spending $100,000 on promotional items like pens and water bottles.

The General Services Administration, which squandered $1 million on an over-the-top event in Vegas also spent money on a clown, expensive food and a bunch commemorative coins as gifts for attendees.

The investigation also unearthed this clip from the evidence room of internal auditors by Ohio Congressman Michael Turner.

“Basically toys and trinkets... commemorative… not related to work. You can extrapolate. These are agencies basically throwing parties for themselves," he said.

Federal agencies staging team building conferences handed out jigsaw puzzles, kazoos for management meetings and drumsticks, too.

Reports show one of those general services administration gifts ended up on eBay.

A spokesman for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance said other giveaways likely end up in the trash.

The White House recently announced a crackdown ordering no more handouts of, quote, ‘non-essential items’ at these conferences.

It remains to be seen how well the rule is being followed our review found millions of dollars spent on government travel and conferences in 2012 alone.


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

retiredfed - 6/28/2013 1:55 PM
0 Votes
I am a retired Veterans Benefit Administration supervisor. Any gifts to employees came out of my pocketbook, not my government credit card. Not everyone is doing the horrible stuff (and I do believe it is horrible). I never saw any suspicious or inappropriate expenses on a government credit card report.

varrt - 6/28/2013 9:59 AM
0 Votes
I am a federal employee in that Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration. I know that in our part of the government the restrictions on gizmos is absolute, at least for rank and file front line employees. We have always been limited to $5 or less per employee for anything for say, National [profession here] Week. We used to be able to have small give always for recruiting staff. No more. Private sector hospitals do both of these to recruit and retain staff. Please know that not all Federal employees are wasting tax dollars for trinkets and junk. It seems the higher in the structure, the more this happens. It is not the front line workers and caregivers doing this.
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