Parties, golf tournaments, and cruise-boat dinners were all found to be part of the Department of Energy’s $21 million dollar conference budget. This comes from a report by the department’s Inspector General.
According to the report:
“Our review also identified conference information regarding social events that in our view could lead to negative public perceptions. Existing guidance notes that participation in any associated social events should be limited and restrained to the greatest degree practicable to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” the inspector general said in the report.
“Despite this admonition, we found that attendance at some conferences included associated social events. For example, [Energy Department documents] showed department-sponsored conferences that included a casino night, Super Bowl party, golf tournament, banquet on a dinner cruise boat, dinner at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a tour and dinner at an aquarium,” the report said.
The report examined at least 300 Department of Energy conferences held from April 2013 through September 2014.
The report, however, does not break down how much was spent on each conference or how much taxpayer money was used for entertainment activities.
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The review also identified that existing meeting spaces could have been used instead of more expensive private facilities.
According to the Washington Times:
Furthermore, the report found that the Energy Department may have wasted tens of thousands of dollars by renting out meeting spaces when existing federal facilities could’ve been used instead.
For example, in the inspector general said that one conference, costing more than $63,000, was held at a Washington hotel rather than the department’s nearby complex in Southwest D.C.
Renting the hotel meeting space cost about $15,000, the review says.
What do you think of the Department of Energy spending so much of its conference budget on entertainment activities? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.