‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Team Building Event Sparks Federal Investigation


Last May some of the people who work for NOAA took the afternoon off for a team building exercise to attend a matinee of Star Trek Into Darkness. The event resulted in a government investigation and (just released) 21-page report. Get the details below.

Government Report: Watching Star Trek Movie Offers ‘No Professional Development’

The Satellite Operating Facility in Suitland, MD is home to a staff of 106 people who are responsible for the ‘ground segment’ of NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series, which monitors, among other things, space weather. And last July the Dept. of Commerce Office of Inspector General received an anonymous "whistleblower" complaint alleging that managers from that facility "encouraged more than 100 GOES-R government and contract employees to miss a half-day of work on May 23, 2013, to attend a matinee showing of the latest Star Trek movie." This complaint ended up launching an investigation resulting in a 22-page report, which was released this week (and spotted by the
Washington Post

Staffers from this NOAA facility in trouble for taking Star Trek excursion last May

The investigation confirmed that there indeed was an organized event for a lunch and matinee showing of Star Trek Into Darkness, with 21 staff members attending (a mix of federal employees and contractors). However, the event wasn’t just some satellite nerds slacking off to see Star Trek, it was organized in order to fix a morale problem. As noted in the report:

Numerous witnesses told the OIG that GOES-R Ground Segment staff often worked more than 40 hours weekly without earning overtime pay or compensatory time, and Supervisor 1 was aware of “a morale issue” that he hoped to address with an activity that would “bond” the team.

But that wasn’t good enough for the IG, who determined that Trek doesn’t fix the problem:

Although Supervisor 1’s intent in organizing the event appears to have been an effort to boost low morale, the OIG found that the execution of the event resulted in several problems. The OIG concluded that, unlike training events, which are designed to develop professional skills and therefore may be counted as work-hours, watching a Star Trek movie offered no professional development opportunities. Therefore, even if such an event resulted in greater unity or cohesion, the hours spent at the event should not have been billed to the government.

Morale was low inside NOAA’s Satellite Operating Facility – but government determines watching "Star Trek Into Darkness" is not the answer

What’s the big deal you may ask? Why make a Federal case about it? Well, the report has you covered there too, noting:

Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3729, “any person who knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval. . .is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty. . . .”

That’s right, by seeing a Star Trek movie this group of staffers had broken Federal law. However, the subsequent investigation determined that all the federal employees who attended the event had worked so many hours (which was part of the morale problem) that even though they took half a day off, they all made up for the time spent at the event. But the IG did determine that some of the contractors (four specifically) improperly billed the government for their time at the event and had the contractors "credit back" a total of $1,460.12 in wages.

One has to wonder how much the investigation and report cost and was it more than $1,460.12?

Star Trek Into Darkness
Watching the Enterprise struggle to maintain orbit doesn’t help build the morale of a group who monitor space weather satellites?

So is the IG a total buzzkill? Well, the report offers this defense: 

The results of this investigation are not intended to suggest that GOES-R management discontinue attempts to build unity or morale through appropriate events. However, events like the matinee viewing of the latest Star Trek movie held in May 2013 should not be conducted at the expense of taxpayers.

There is also the question as to who ratted out these Trek movie goers? The report has special praise for this person, noting:

We also note that the issues described below would likely not have come to light without the anonymous whistleblower who first raised the allegations to the OIG. Whistleblowers are essential to effective oversight of government programs, and we credit the complainant for stepping forward and raising the allegations at issue in this investigation.

TrekMovie is guessing it was a Star Wars fan.

Was it one of these guys who ratted out the NOAA Trek movie goers?

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What a stupid waste of time. Whoever blew the whistle on this activity is a moron.

To that whistleblower, I say that you are scum. Subhuman scum.

That is all.

“TrekMovie is guessing it was a Star Wars fan”

I had a hardy laugh after reading the last sentence!

The Gov is right for once, watching STID certainly doesn’t offer any professional development.

Watching Prime Universe Trek however, does/did.

I’m 100% sure that the “investigation” cost the taxpayers far more than the matinee did…

So four contractors taking a half day is almost 1500$ in wages? They average 375$ for a half day each? 700$ a DAY??? That’s roughly what I make in a week, as a skilled IT worker. WTF can a contractor be doing that’s worth:

750$/day *5 work days
3750$ a week * 52 weeks
195,000$ a year. EACH.

I have trouble imagining what a contractor does at a satellite monitoring station that’s worth 200K$ a year.

Bit ridiculous. It isn’t uncommon for coworkers to attend cook outs or go bowling as part of team building exercises. And however horrible a movie Into Darkness may have been it’s well within the type of activity that would normally be considered team building.

Whoever green lit this investigation needs to refocus their attention. If they’re worried about wasting taxpayer dollars they shouldn’t be funding nonsense like this.

“TrekMovie is guessing it was a Star Wars fan. ”


I think they were very considerate to see the cheaper matinee showing.


i suppose they have to go after the White House, too, since they requested a print when it came out.

Sounds like this movie-hookie game’s been going on since 1984. Gozer the Destructor, anyone?

Actually, the IG should refund about 40% to the fans, to cover the parts of JJ’s movie we had already seen when it was called The Wrath of Khan.

4. moral development. Thats likely the issue;)

@10. boborci

“i suppose they have to go after the White House, too, since they requested a print when it came out.”


Perhaps the Republicans will do just that, after they are done investigating coffee-gate!

11. 40 percent? Not good at math, are you? and anyway, they say 43% of all statistics are flawed;)

You know we luvs ya, boborci.
Just yearning for a new movie in your voice. And genuinely wishing you success.

Deduct all the overtime without pay from the time spent at the lunch/movie, and then pay each person the difference for the unpaid work. Oh wait, they take our pay real fast when we owe, but as a government worker I have to say, you should see how long the government takes to pay us when we are owed. Oh, they take interest, but we never get it when they owe us.

At least they didn’t cross state lines with young gulls for immortal porpoises!
(Because, if you give the porpoises Khan-blood, they become immortal and mess with ocean currents… NOAA needs to know these things!)

15 ;)

Only the gov’t would compound one waste of money with another waste of money. Sad thing is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, this sort of thing goes in in the public sector daily.

Bob Orci. You need to run for office. Lol

Well, you guys do keep sending the big spenders back to Washington.

People complain about their government not serving the people, and yet come election time, the politicians are able to easily herd the sheep — er I mean, voters — into giving them their votes.

This whole investigation will have most likely cost millions…..but, hey, who’s counting, right?

In 2016, this will be forgotten.

yeah, no… SOMEBODY does need to get bitch-slapped over this…

HUGE waste of time/money, AND completely ineffective… nu-trek SUCKS!

the whistle-blower? A TRUE STAR TREK FAN who knows worthless when he sees it! =P

There are plenty of not-so-well-intentioned people spending billions of taxpayer dollars for FAR more nefarious purposes. Where’s the accountability there? It’s this kind of absurd scrutiny focused entirely on the wrong things that decreases morale and drives good, qualified people away from government.

Yeah, you know, they can “boost morale” by paying people for their overtime in the first place (raises are good too!) rather than taking them to a matinee. Might as well take them to Chuck E. Cheese.


Overtime? LOL, did the Navy ever comp me for all those times (and Exreps) we had to complete? No because we got paided on a monthy scale, based on a 24-hour work day cycle. Should be the same for those NOAA folks, minus the duty section crap (right?)

Oh, big deal. If my tax money is paying for government employees to watch Star Trek, then I say money well spent. If this was one of those big Vegas parties you hear about taxing money being spent on I’d understand, but who cares if they take half a day off to watch a movie.

Good to see boborci back interacting with the fans after his time away. Looking forward to 13. Until then, will continue to taunt about yoinking so much of TWoK for STID. ;-)

Bob, if you like conspiracies, check out the Black Pope. It will blow your mind!

12: Watching TNG S6 on blu-ray just has me ranting against the mainstream aspects of the new movies.

However, I do think JJ trek is getting better and better & wish you a great production on #3! :D

So I guess it is OK for the White House to ask for a copy of the film where no doubt the President and other workers could take time out to watch the movie, but the plebes get dumped on for doing the same.

If workers at this facility are doing up to 40 hours a week over their normal working hours without compensation, then clearly there is understaffing. Get more staff and let people work proper, decent hours where they can get together to watch a movie in their own time. Frankly, it appears that most of the people taking time out to watch a film were doing it in their own, real time, irrespective of what the Government Agency might say.

Continually working longer hours, day in day out, does not necessarily improve production, quite the reverse sometimes. However, it can bring about mistakes and accidents…

Since nu-Trek doesn’t actually suck,it was time well spent. Let them have fun instead of sitting in front of a computer screen all day……or whatever they do at work,lol.

If I could take all the kids at work to see it when it came out,I most certainly would.


Mr. Orci, nice to see someone with a prominent position in the entertainment industry actually expecting government to be open and transparent, like it’s supposed to be.

How ’bout the US bombing ISIS, which they themselves created along with the Saudi’s? Do they think we’re so blind that we don’t realize they created Saddam, Al Qaida, and now ISIS?

Ridiculous, but defines contractors need those record profits, eh?

32 – zeeman1, How else are they supposed to build The Vengeance? Stop whining about the good works of the jobs creators.

The whistleblower was some jackoff named John Harrison. Probably trying to keep people from investigating his activities.

14. boborci – September 26, 2014

11. 40 percent? Not good at math, are you? and anyway, they say 43% of all statistics are flawed;)

Yes but only 26% of the population is aware of this.

This is just stupid. I really don’t mind having my tax-money going to help some over-worked, super-important NOAA workers get some much needed break by watching Star Trek, even if it is STiD.

And how do the writers of that report know that watching a Star Trek movie does not offer professional development? Where is the research on that? The data? I have been in LOTS of PD’s that were a big waste of tax-payer money, I am sure watching ST would have been much more beneficial.

I call BS on this. Let them watch Star Trek! Y’know, if more people watched Star Trek, we would be in a better world.

17 – (Because, if you give the porpoises Khan-blood, they become immortal and mess with ocean currents… NOAA needs to know these things!)

That Khan blood explains all their intricate flopping about shortly before the arrival of the Vogons.

35 ha!

gonna steal that:)

Bob… just wanted to say I loved Scorpion. Congrats! (Kinda weird that a few days later ATC went down in Chicago and created an eerily similar situation!)

32 Don’t get me started;)

NASA Brings Scientists & Theologians Together To Prepare World For Extraterrestrial Contact


“Yes there have been crashed craft, and bodies recovered. We are not alone in the universe, they have been coming here for a long time.”

– Apollo 14 Astronaut, Air Force Captain and Founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Edgar Mitchell

“Decades ago, visitors from other planets warned us about the direction we were heading and offered to help. Instead, some of us interpreted their visits as a threat, and decided to shoot first and ask questions after. Trillions of dollars have been spent on black projects which both congress and the commander in chief have deliberately been kept in the dark.”


Snowden Reveals First Ever Public Disclosure Of Secret Black Budget Programs

“…there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that these black budget programs deal with matters beyond our world.”


Mitchell was the loopy astronaut who tried his ESP connection with people on Earth while orbiting the moon. If you think there is no such thing as nutty astronauts, just look up Lisa Nowak.

This is completely nuts, crazy and loony, spending money watching STID,–anybody knows that weather plays an important role in STIV, so they should have been watching that instead. This is ironic, of course.

“Given the mixture of a treasure chest of government money, and private connections, the likelihood exists that six decades later there is a clandestine group that possesses:

Technology that is vastly superior to that of the “mainstream” world.

The ability to explore areas of our world and surroundings presently unavailable to the rest of us.

Scientific and cosmological understandings that give them greater insights into the nature of our world

A significant “built off the grid” infrastructure, partially underground, that affords them a high degree of secrecy and independence of action

This might well qualify them as a separate civilization – one that has broken away from our own, in effect, a breakaway civilization. Still interacting with our own, its members probably move back and forth between the official reality of what we are supposed to believe, and the other reality which encompasses new truths and challenges.”

46. I am not Herbert

So the X-Files show that I watched on FOX was a reality program? ;-)

“There is abundant evidence that we are being contacted, that civilizations have been monitoring us for a very long time. That their appearance is bizarre from any type of traditional materialistic western point of view. That these visitors use the technologies of consciousness, they use toroids, they use co-rotating magnetic disks for their propulsion systems, that seems to be a common denominator of the UFO phenomenon”

– Dr. Brian O’leary, Former NASA Astronaut and Princeton Physics Professor


O’Leary never actually flew in space.

Mike Barnett: REALITY is certainly NOT what FOX feeds you… ;-)