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It seems the government really is going to great lengths to restrict travel and meetings for federal employees.
The latest is a directive released last week by the Obama administration to federal agencies to cut their travel budgets for fiscal year 2013 by 30 percent and cap spending on government-sponsored conferences at $500,000. These new restrictions apply only to government travel and conference spending.
Still, the association community is responding to the activity of the past week to curtail meetings travel. Last week the U.S. Travel Association drafted a proposal to strengthen oversight of government conferences. U.S. Travel recommends Congress require federal agencies to report all conference-related expenditures and contracting procedures to its inspector general at the end of each fiscal year. Also, the association wants federal agencies to select conference locations based on cost-effectiveness, permanently eliminating “blacklisting” of American cities for government meetings.
Also, ASAE fears members of Congress believe the administration’s new guidance to federal agencies does not go far enough, and will insert language into another legislative vehicle that includes broader restrictions on non-governmental meetings and conferences.
ASAE started another educate Congress campaign to support the changes to the amendments that passed the House and Senate two weeks ago:
- change the definition of a conference to apply only to government-sponsored meetings as intended, and not include meetings and conferences held by associations and other private sector organizations.
- strike the provision in the amendment that restricts agencies from attending more than one conference held by a private organization per fiscal year.
ASAE delivered a sign-on letter to Congress last week regarding the two amendments that passed both the House and Senate. The ASAE letter had 2,100 signatures. Details: www.travelindustry.org, www.asaecenter.org.