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GSA Launches Travel Advisory Committee to Revamp Conference Policies

By / Jul 10, 2013 (Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

In an effort to keep conference and travel spending in check throughout the federal government, the General Services Administration will launch a new committee, made up of public and private-sector officials, to discuss ways to improve efficiencies.

With reports of lavish federal spending on travel and conferences commonly making news in the past year, the General Services Administration—the agency at the center of the biggest controversy—is working to strengthen the government’s policies.

We’re encouraged that the administration is working with the private sector to review travel policies.

The GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy is creating a committee to discuss how to best improve efficiencies and implement more effective policies on travel and conference spending. More details:

The plan: On July 30, the GSA plans to hold the first meeting of the Governmentwide Travel Advisory Committee, a 15-member group made up of representatives from federal, state, and local government as well as from the travel industry, visitor and convention bureaus, and corporations with an interests in the matter. Travel industry and association representatives named to the committee include executives from the Society of Government Travel Professionals, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Asian American Hotels Owners Association, and Marriott Hotels. The issues at hand for the first meeting include a review of existing travel policies, starting with per-diem methodology. The proceedings will be made available to the public through a teleconference, Fierce Government notes.

The reaction: ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, spoke favorably of the panel’s creation and mission. “We’re encouraged that the administration is working with the private sector to review travel policies,” he said. “There are many occasions where government travel is warranted and the best means of exchanging information and dialoguing with the private sector. To the extent that representatives of the hospitality community and other stakeholders can be involved in setting those travel policies, that should bode well for a sensible dialogue about how to facilitate government travel when it’s necessary and mission-related.”

A number of federal agencies beyond the GSA have faced blowback over conference spending (most notably the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs), but federal agencies’ participation in conferences at large has been affected by Obama administration policy changes.

The GSA has been working on solutions in recent months, including considering the implementation of an enterprisewide model of event management.

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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