Study: Government Meetings Benefit Economy and Productivity

According to a new study sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, government meetings are more cost-effective than private-sector meetings, and government attendance at meetings provides opportunities to advance industries.

Amid conference scandals and sequester-related budget cuts, the government meetings industry has taken some hits over the past several months. Now new research [PDF] sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association has found that savings from scaled-back meeting and travel spending among federal agencies may be coming at the cost of information exchange and professional development.

“Public agencies at all levels of U.S. government have made deep cuts to travel and meetings budgets in recent years,” Jon Gray, vice president of research and insight at Rockport Analytics, LLC, which conducted  study, said in a statement. “Our research found that these across-the-board cancellations offer short-term savings at a much greater long-term cost.”

Our research found that these across-the-board cancellations offer short-term savings at a much greater long-term cost.

According to the study, government travel to meetings and conferences in 2011 generated $5.5 billion in tax revenue and supported 343,800 U.S. jobs. Additionally, government spending on meetings in 2011 made up about 0.2 percent of total government expenses.

The study also found:

Government meetings are more economical than private-sector meetings. In 2011, those attending government meetings spent $185 a day on average, while people attending private-sector meetings spent roughly $224 a day. Government meeting-related travel expenses in 2011 made up about 36 percent of all government travel spending that year.

Additionally, on the operations side, the average amount spent per person per day on government meetings  was $173, compared to  the average $339  spent in the private sector.

Government attendance at private-sector meetings leads to valuable knowledge exchanges. Seventy-four percent of surveyed private-sector executives reported that government employees contribute value via knowledge transfers at conferences and meetings.

Roughly 40 percent of these executives also reported that having government employees attend meetings allows them access to knowledge they would not get anywhere else and increases their awareness of government programs.

Meetings where government and private-sector personnel collaborate help build industry partnerships. Respondents also reported that idea generation and professional development were heavily affected by public- and private-sector collaboration at meetings.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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