Some members of Congress reportedly are keen to revive legislation that would impose new limitations on government employee attendance at conferences. ASAE last week urged lawmakers not to create new barriers to interaction between associations and government.
ASAE is continuing to press a strong message to lawmakers about the importance of government employees attending face-to-face meetings.
Last week, it submitted a letter to every member of Congress imploring them to refrain from enacting more restrictions that would further discourage the necessary interaction between associations and the federal government.
In every sector, a federal agency needs to hear and learn from the experts in their field.
Members of the ASAE Meetings Coalition have indicated that Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) is looking to reintroduce the Coburn-Heitkamp compromise version of the Conference Accountability Act, S. 1347.
That version, which was pulled from markup last summer, included more-stringent reporting requirements for federal employees that have attended meetings where the agency spent more than $50,000. It would have also prevented agencies from spending more than $500,000 on a single conference unless Congress approved a request made by the agency.
ASAE’s position is that action by the Office of Management and Budget, including the M-12-12 Memo and additional Controller Alerts, have adequately addressed this issue and that statutory language will make it more difficult for federal employees to attend important association meetings.
“In every sector, a federal agency needs to hear and learn from the experts in their field, and very often those experts come together under the umbrella of a trade or professional society,” the letter stated. “From technology to protect our armed forces, to new cures for deadly diseases, to better building techniques for federal facilities, the knowledge and technology to save the government money while creating better public policy exists at association meetings and educational programs occurring every week. The ability to bring together so many knowledgeable experts happens through associations and cannot be replicated in a government office.”
Federal restrictions on government meetings are also affecting the events and conferences that agencies are holding. A recent quarterly report from Meeting Professionals International found that almost 50 percent of respondents expected a drop in government meetings last November. That number was up from the 43 percent who expected a decrease in August and 31 percent who expected a decrease in May of last year.