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An Open Letter to the Industry on the Preservation of Government Conferences
Roger Dow, President, U.S. Travel Association

Dear Travel Colleague:

As Congress continues to advance restrictive legislation on government travel, it is important that the travel industry advocate for sensible reforms that preserve the government’s ability to hold ethical conferences.  U.S. Travel today put forth a positive proposal to strengthen oversight of government conferences that ensures federal agencies can still use meetings and conferences to provide valuable services to the taxpayer.

Just like the taxpayer, the travel industry depends on adequate oversight and ethical standards for all federal travel – because this is the only way that legitimate and productive travel can continue to take place.

Industry Proposal to Strengthen Oversight

To ensure that conferences remain an effective tool of the federal government that provides value to the taxpayer, U.S. Travel recommends that Congress:
  • Extend and enhance oversight provisions enacted in FY2012 by requiring federal agencies to report all conference-related expenditures and conference contracting procedures to its Inspector General at the end of each fiscal year; and
  • Ensure that agencies select conference locations based solely on cost-effectiveness by permanently eliminating the “blacklisting” of American cities for government conferences and meetings.
What to Expect from Congress This Week

This week Congress will consider several appropriations bills containing proposals to increase oversight of government conferences and curb travel spending.  The House is considering the FY13 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill, which contains similar language to the U.S. travel proposal to increase oversight.  Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee will markup its FY13 spending bill that requires the Department of Homeland Security(DHS)  report its conference spending to the DHS Inspector General every three months.

Additionally, the House and Senate continue work on the Postal Reform bill and the DATA Act, which contain concerning proposals by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to severely limit government conferences.  No further action is scheduled for either bill at this time but we must do everything we can to fight this proposal.

Next Steps

U.S. Travel is meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for our proposal to increase oversight and preserve government conferences, while dissuading Members of Congress from supporting other measures that could have unintended consequences for our industry.  Additionally, we are continuing to focus resources on informing lawmakers on the value of meetings, events and conferences.

I will continue to keep you informed of further developments.

Roger Dow, U.S. Travel President and CEO
Roger J. Dow
President & CEO

The U.S. Travel Association
is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $1.9 trillion in economic output and supports 14.4 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.  Visit  Follow us on Twitter @ustravel

Cathy Keefe
(202) 408-2183

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