Office of Management and Budget Recognizes Importance of Industry Relationships
On May 28, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo to federal agencies offering guidance on best practices for approving travel and conference expenses. The memo acknowledges the importance of government and industry interaction, highlighting the need for agencies to limit unnecessary expenditures while maintaining relationships with industry stakeholders.
Emphasizing the effects of sequestration on budgetary resources, the OMB urges agencies to review travel and conference-related activities to verify those activities are mission-specific to the agency, warning that federal employee attendance at conferences and association-hosted events will necessarily decrease as a result of budget constraints.
While not official guidance, the memo suggests keeping hotel costs within government guidelines for per diem rates; requiring heads of agencies or deputy secretaries approval for conferences more than $500,000 and $100,000 threshold, respectively; and inquiring about “no frills” pricing options for all conferences and events. The OMB’s latest action represents a step in the right direction to ensure the federal government remains accessible to industry associations.
In June 2012, ARSA joined nearly a thousand organizations urging Congress to modify proposals that would strictly limit federal employees’ ability to attend conferences hosted by associations. ARSA regularly invites government employees to events like the Annual Repair Symposium and values the opportunity to serve as a resource to government officials.