In May, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released two memos providing guidance for government employee conference and meeting attendance.
Balancing the importance of such meetings for the training and education of agency employees with the need to reduce government travel costs, the memos acknowledge that there will be a continued reduction in event attendance due to the federal government sequestration efforts.
They provide “best practices” for agency approval of such meetings, including confirmation that attendance is necessary and cost-effective for carrying out the agency’s mission, approval by the head of the agency for conferences over a threshold of $500,000 and $100,000, not including lavish social components, and clearly identifying the training objectives that government personnel will derive from attendance.
Agency heads are required to submit an annual report to the government regarding the costs related to each conference held in FY 2013 which exceeds $100,000, including its purpose, number of attendees, and a detailed statement of costs (including food and travel).
Government employee attendance at meetings and conferences provides an important opportunity for an exchange of ideas between the government and trade groups, such as NAR, which is essential to the development of informed policymaking. NAR will continue to monitor the rules regulating attendance at conferences and nongovernmental meetings to ensure that attempts to reduce costs do not cut into our ability to advocate for our members.