VA spent $52,000 for 'Patton'-inspired training film

The Veterans Affairs department spent $52,000 to make a training video in which an actor parodied actor George C. Scott in the iconic scene from the movie “Patton,” according to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The video (viewable below) surfaced as part of a probe into two training conferences the VA held in Florida in 2011.  Lasting nearly 15 minutes, it features segments echoing Scott's famous speech to the troops scene interspersed with more straightforward interviews and commentary about VA's mission.

“I question the excessiveness in which taxpayer dollars are being used to fund multi-million dollar conferences,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the committee's chairman. “The committee will continue to investigate these conferences. I have requested all budgets and materials for VA conferences that have occurred over the past three years to see if these two conferences are an anomaly or are part of a bigger pattern.”

Earlier this month, Miller and ranking member Bob Filner (D-Calif.) sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinsheki detailing their concerns.

The VA issued a statement agreeing that the video was an inappropriate use of funds.

"“This parody should never have been produced and this misuse of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable. This event took place over a year ago and we have already adopted new rules that reflect our continuing commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars," the statement reads. "The Department is cooperating fully with the VA Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) ongoing investigation, and earlier this month Secretary Shinseki proactively informed key members of Congress of the investigation. Additionally, VA has taken action to remove purchasing authority of any employees in the work unit under investigation."

Several incidents of apparent excessive spending have come to light this year, including the General Services Administration's notorious Western Regions Conference held in Las Vegas in 2010 and the investigation into an Army general for allegedly finding ways for his wife to accompany him on travel at government expense, among other accusations.

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Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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Reader comments

Thu, Oct 4, 2012

No I won't lighten up - you wake up!!! $52,000 is bad enough, but the conferences in Florida cost 5.3 million you idiots!!!

Thu, Oct 4, 2012

Invest in training - yes; conferences in Florida no! And as to training materials being boring, keep in mind that it was the job of one of those "HR Professionals" referenced in this stupid video to develop training materials that are Not dry and boring (like this $52,000 video!). Shame on the first five commenters who had no problem with this waste of money you make government employees look bad!!!

Fri, Aug 24, 2012

Much ado about very little. Another commenter has noted the dry, boring nature of much of government training; this at least had a little bit of humor, which can help to hold interest. Yesterday I had to waste 1 1/2 hours on dry, mandatory training material I have seen before. The subject itself was worthwhile and relevant, but a little variation would have made the exercise more tolerable.

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 Washington, DC

looking into making headlines where there are no headlines to be made is Congress' specialty lately. Why don't they investigate the reason for congress only passing 60+ bill this session, the lowest productivity for a Congressional session in modern history. Maybe Congress should find another 'Baseball doping scandal' to investigate. It is easy to grab headlines with twisted sound bites about a $52,000 video rather than understanding the effect of such a video. Is this another case of Congress wasting tax payer money to score political points? One can not help but feel that if Congress did not show up, would anyone miss them?

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 Kat

I expect the original idea behind the stories about this video was to get people worked up over something that sounded ridiculous in concept ("why do they need a parody video at a training conference?"), but when the video finally hit, it was just a run-of-the-mill training with talking heads and a bit of fun acting thrown in. I figure the only reason the news organizations still ran the story was that they figured no one would actually watch the thing, and they were already planning this big release.

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