House Committee Approves Bills to Lock in Travel Spending Cuts

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Yesterday Government Executive reported that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved, and sent to the House, two bills targeting excessive government spending. The actions aim to cut agency travel spending by 30 percent with a particular focus on travel to conferences.

An amendment added more teeth to this request. The amendment would restrict agencies from paying travel expenses for more than 50 employees to attend a single international conference (unless they are approved in advance by the Secretary of State). Further, it requires each agency to post on its public Web site each quarter the details of any travel expenses paid for conferences during the previous quarter.

Personally I think the Secretary of State has more important things to do than sign off on travel requests. But my larger concern is with the increased scrutiny around individual travel details and the chilling impact it will have on demand among prospective attendees of government conferences and events. Since the details emerged from the GSA conference scandal, it seems that any government employee who wants (or needs) to attend an event in another city has to sign away his or her life and risk public humiliation, not to mention career growth, just to get approval.

Is the government over-reacting here? More importantly, will anyone in government have the appetite to go through the approval process (or face the risk) to attend any of the events at which we promote our products and services? Will they be discouraged from attending local events too? Or have those become an even more important tool for marketing professionals?

We’ll be following this bill as it winds its way through the House. And as always, we’re watching our attendance rates to see if our marketing ROI has been (or will be) impacted by these continuing changes. I urge you to do the same.

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