Meetings

Secretary of the Army Bars Conferences for Rest of 2012

The Secretary of the Army, in an effort to cut costs, has ordered a departmentwide suspension of outside conference attendance until December 31.

Since the General Services Administration scandal broke, we’ve already seen cuts in attendance, cancellations, and spending left unapproved.

We must continue to implement more cost-effective and efficient methods to train, plan, collaborate, and disseminate information.

But now, a branch of the military is outright banning attendance at conferences — at least temporarily.

“I am suspending Army attendance at non-DOD conferences between now and December 31, 2012, unless I previously approved attendance, for example, the AUSA Annual Meeting, or an exception is granted,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh wrote in a memo obtained by Defense Systems magazine.

The Army’s full memo [PDF], released October 17, does allow for exceptions — which must be endorsed by a Department of the Army principal official — but McHugh’s statement implies that he expects few to be granted.

“We must continue to implement more cost-effective and efficient methods to train, plan, collaborate, and disseminate information,” McHugh continued. “Experience has shown that conferences are an expensive means of accomplishing these goals, and the need for each conference must be indisputable in the current environment of declining resources.”

ASAE says it hopes to work with the Army to find some middle ground despite the decision.

“We understand the serious cost concerns the Army has with sequestration looming, but we believe face-to-face meetings are vital to many public-private partnerships,” said Jim Clarke, CAE, ASAE’s senior vice president, public policy. “ASAE will seek a meeting with the secretary of Army to discuss this decision and how we can work together to ensure these partnerships continue.”

(TMG archive photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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