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The Federal Government Throws a Party

Wednesday December 23rd, 2015   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:03am PST   •  

44699575_S Now that we’re well into the holiday season, where many of us will be going to parties, we thought we’d take a moment to consider how the politicians and bureaucrats who are employed by the federal government throw a party.

If you’re a long time reader of MyGovCost, you probably have already guessed that they do it at taxpayer expense! And thanks to the 2015 Wastebook, we have some prime examples of the kinds of parties that the federal government’s employees think is a good idea.

First, here’s how the Department of Homeland Security does it:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent almost $2 million to pay nearly 100 employees not to work and more than $1 million to lease unneeded spare vehicles. DHS also handed out $3 million to the owners of party buses, including one described as a “nightclub on wheels,” and luxury coaches to escort socialites and vacationers to the playground of the rich and famous.

What is it like to ride the DHS’ party bus? Here’s how the company the DHS contracted to provide the service describes it in their promotional literature:

“When it comes to premium comfort and convenience, there’s no better way to travel than Hampton Jitney’s Ambassador Service. With 30 amazingly comfortable 3-across seats, our Ambassador coach carries just half the passengers as our regular coaches,” the company boasts. “And, as the roomiest coach traveling to the East End, it offers the ultimate in comfort and convenience, such as extra-wide plush seats, extended legroom (it was designed for basketball players), spacious overhead and underneath storage compartments plus individual electric power outlets. In addition to rapid boarding, a courteous on-board attendant provides a wide variety of complimentary refreshments, snacks and reading material on every trip.”

“We have wine service,” points out a longtime Jitney employee. “And every so often, passengers get goodie bags with products that advertisers pay the Jitney to distribute like Tory Burch gift cards and Vera Bradley accessories.”

It turns out that many politicians and bureaucrats have an affinity, and really, more of an unhealthy fetish, for the glitterati, including those who don’t even make the D-list, as the following example from the National Institute of Health reveals:

A former cast member of MTV’s The Real World nabbed $5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to throw parties for hipsters.

Here’s how the squares at the NIH identified guests to invite to their hipster parties:

To identify the hipsters, government-paid researchers used photos of people in various modes of dress and style, asking young people to describe them. If a particular look screamed ‘hipster’ over and over, the researchers used that as a guide.”

Meanwhile, the people who receive paychecks from the U.S. Department of Agriculture might be described as being the furthest thing possible away from hipsters, which perhaps explains why their parties are so different:

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) picked up the tab to send a group to the Great American Beer Festival. It also sponsored the Ultimate Tailgate Party Package at a college football game and a sing-along show tunes brunch party.

Show tunes? What show tunes did they sing along to?

The sing-along brunch included music from the Little Mermaid, The Wizard of Oz, and Annie. Guests were also “treated to Broadway melodies from classic shows such as Carousel to modern hits like In the Heights.”

Dustin Ceithamer, who choreographed Mary Poppins, helped put the brunch performances together. “It is a party so we are going to be getting a little funky,” said Ceithamer.

On second thought, if they sang those sing-along show tunes ironically, they might be no different from the modern hipster.

Parties are, of course, a way that people join together to celebrate their communities, which might explain why the Department of Transportation throws block parties:

Residents of Kansas City were dancing in the streets this spring — despite having one of the worst pothole problems in the nation—at a block party paid for by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Here’s what that party was like:

Inspired by a tradition that originated in Columbia called Ciclovia, a Spanish word meaning “cycleway,” the city hosted a street festival called “Cycle in the City.” An $86,000 federal transportation grant paid for “event management, advertising and planned activities,” which included dance classes, a climbing wall, yoga, a DJ, food stands, lawn games, biking, and skating.

Finally, for a story that didn’t make the news until after the 2015 Wastebook came out, for Christmas this year, President Obama has decreed that all employees of the federal government will receive a half day off work, with pay, so they can get an early on start on their Christmas parties!

President Obama on Friday granted federal employees a half-day off on Christmas Eve.

“All executive branch departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty for the last half of the scheduled workday on Thursday, December 24, 2015, the day before Christmas Day,…” Obama said in an executive order.

It is quite possible that President Obama is the only U.S. President to ever award the federal government’s employees with the benefits of paid holidays by executive order, freeing them from the burden of having to deliver the services that they are employed to provide to the regular Americans who might need to get something done the day before the U.S. government will be closed for an officially recognized holiday.

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December 2015