Industry Responds To Scrutiny Of IRS Promotional Products Spending


Last week, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released its report on a 2010 IRS conference, citing instances of IRS conference planners not following established procurement policies. Included in this report were detailed accounts of IRS purchases of promotional products.

The TIGTA report surveyed travel-related spending by the IRS in the 2010-2012 time period. While the IRS held 225 conferences during that time and spent a total of $49 million, a 2010 Anaheim, California, conference for which the IRS spent $4.1 million on planning, speakers, video services, promotional products and gifts for employees has come under particular scrutiny.

PPAI President and CEO Bellantone, CAE, says, “I, like many of you, was disappointed by the IRS’ conduct of late, but I was dismayed by the ensuing media portrayal of our industry. Simply because our products are tangible, memorable and long-lasting—all attributes that contribute to their effectiveness—they are easy targets for sound bites. However, it is important to realize that the media coverage was not an attack on the promotional products industry, but rather focused on the IRS.”

Upon review with its D.C. lobbyists, legal counsel and Government Relations Action Council, PPAI will continue to monitor this situation very closely, but the Association will not attempt to engage members of Congress in a discussion of IRS procurement practices until an environment more conducive to a productive conversation emerges.

As recently as April of this year, PPAI joined industry leaders in front of members of Congress during its fourth annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.), and will continue to meet with them to reinforce the industry’s messages regarding the value and effectiveness of promotional products.

Many legislators still don’t fully understand that promotional products are the most cost-effective method for businesses, nonprofits and government entities to market and raise awareness of their programs. Too few elected officials know how essential promotional products are to the marketing mix, and the industry, to the national economy.

Bellantone adds, “I urge you to add your voice to ours and remind your Washington, D.C., representatives that the promotional products industry provides more than 432,000 jobs and nearly $18 billion annually.” Use this link to send an email to your representative right now.

3 Responses to Industry Responds To Scrutiny Of IRS Promotional Products Spending

  1. Carolyn Agee - The Ridge Enterprises says:

    I can certainly understand your concern – however, as a conference planner as well as owner my company, I am appalled at the money spent as noted. Of course we are to promote our business for advertising purposes and marketing, but what’s the purpose of IRS members attending it’s own conference and getting products w/it’s own name/insignia printed, embossed or whatever.

    I also worked w/govt. groups as a planner and there are strict guidelines on the amount of money allowed – seems to me, all these directives were thrown out the door.

    Let’s be real. Gov’t agencies really don’t need the give-aways – let’s send that money back to the people who pay their salaries – you and me.

    • Carolyn Agee – you sound like G Bush. Remember the money that he gave back? It was enough to pay for two inflated gas tanks then he used our good credit to fund wars for oil we never got.

      These “give-aways” include important products like memory sticks, portfolios filled with information, a fresh bottle of water, badge holder and a nice utility tool engraved with the theme of the event. These people – just because they work for the governement – don’t deserve to be given a gift that may help them remember something about the task they have – serving us?

      Products I sell as a promotional products distributor are the most cost-effective way to communicate my clients services and/or products to their customers/audience. They are long lasting reminders of what the giver is trying to tell the recipient.

      I don’t know what else the IRS did at the meetings referenced in the article; but I do know anyone having any of the products I sold them will have a cherished souvineer that will be useful and relevant for a good long time. It will also remind them of the topics they sat through and help them achieve better client services which benefits us all.

      • Carolyn Agee - The Ridge Enterprises says:

        I should have known the supplier of these products would answer. Glad your business got such a boost. Keep up the good work.

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