Citing the specter of sequestration and budget issues related to travel, the General Services Administration has canceled its 2013 Expo in Orlando, Florida.
After nearly a year of controversy that has played out in the press, the General Services Administration (GSA) has taken another hit, canceling a yearly expo.
The statement: According to a statement on the expo’s website, the decision was budget-driven. “In the current fiscal climate, agencies and businesses alike have been forced to make tough spending cuts,” GSA explained. “After carefully reviewing the projected spending and attendance for this year’s conference, GSA is suspending Expo for 2013 in an effort to use our resources responsibly and to deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people.” The agency directed attendees to online options instead.
The context: The cancellation of the May event comes in the wake of sharp cuts that already hit federal meetings at large. The GSA has used the expo to offer training to its industry partners, but after the agency’s spending on a 2010 event drew congressional scrutiny, many agencies have been under pressure to make cuts. Last year, the Office of Management and Budget imposed restrictions on agency conference spending, including a 30 percent across-the-board cut on travel expenses, and the GSA issued its own new rules for employee conference attendance. Last year’s event also faced a sharp decline in attendees, falling to half of the normal 10,000 visitors, according to Federal News Radio.
The reaction: Groups such as the Coalition for Government Procurement (CGP) largely support the cancellation. “GSA is demonstrating leadership in these uncertain times,” said CGP President Roger Waldron. “Why create more stress on agency budgets at a crucial time?” The Federal News Radio report suggests that few attendees would have showed up this year anyway, with ripple effects from the forthcoming sequestration also playing a role.
The event is just one of many to be called off or scaled back recently (the Defense Department and Air Force each canceled an event in the past year). The GSA cancellation is expected to be a one-time change, and the expo is expected to return in 2014.