The restrictions on federal meeting attendance in an amendment (SA 2060) that is attached to the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 (S. 1789) would damage the ability of federally employed scientists to stay current on the most recent innovation. In a November 20 piece in Roll Call (see story here) Michael S. Lubell argues that if this legislation is passed the restrictions would instate a crackdown on meeting attendance so severe that it would stifle scientific advancement in the United States.
Lubell also tackled the question as to why virtual meetings don’t accomplish the same goals as face-to-face communication. While holding conferences via the web may allow some partnership, it takes away the human element where collaboration breeds improvement and advancement. Lubell gives the example that The American Physical Society annual meetings are normally attended by 10,000 scientists from around the globe, including almost 700 federally employed scientists. The new rules found in SA 2060 would eliminate two-thirds of these attendees. This example is one among countless of the damaging effects that meeting restrictions would have on the partnership and meeting of the minds that happens at conferences. The Harvard Business Review argues that “face-to-face communication is the broadest bandwidth communication you can have in professional life.”
It is yet to be seen if the buzz is true and this amendment will be included in postal reform. In the meantime, association executives remain concerned about the damage that will be inflicted by reducing face-to-face professional communication.