Feds Go to Disney
Washington Times “Inside Politics” columnist Greg Pierce reports on what looks to be a boondoggle for federal bureaucrats.
A three-day, expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resorts — sound like a dream vacation? No, it’s “research,” according to four federal agencies sponsoring a June 3-5 conference in Orlando, Fla.
The 2007 AcademyHealth Research Meeting is slated for Disney’s posh Swan and Dolphin resort, which boasts “an environment of elegance and opulence” featuring “the beauty and tranquility of waterways and tropical landscaping.”
Federal sponsors include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Health Services Research and Development Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Web site — www.academyhealth.org/arm — for the taxpayer-funded conference features a palm tree logo that one congressional staffer says perfectly “conveys that ‘bureaucrats on the beach’ atmosphere.” The Web site lists corporate sponsors for the event (including the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly) and such speakers as AHRQ’s Philip Cooper and Lyle Nelson of the Congressional Budget Office.
It’s all rather amusing, especially the event logo:
Still, there may not be much to this. As Pierce notes, there are eleven private sector sponsors. It may well have been there decision to hold it at the resort and they could well be footing most of the bill. And, this month at least, the resort has rate packages starting at $199 a night, which is hardly unreasonable in a major, airport-accessible city these days. (By the way, the resort website is very annoying, auto-loading an annoying video on virtually every page.)
There’s plenty of waste going on in our bureaucracies. Because it’s not their money — and because there are arcane rules for spending that quite often forces paying higher prices than available at the local Office Depot — they waste money on a daily basis. And the nature of civil service career status is that some organizations have substantial dead weight unwilling and/or incompetent to perform their assigned duties.
Below the level of political appointee and senior executive service/flag officer grade, though, there’s not a lot of money spent on lavish entertainment and luxuries for the employees. Indeed, even such amenities as coffee pots and microwave ovens are typically donated by the employees themselves because regulations prohibit sending public funds for that sort of thing.