Earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo to federal agencies proposing to roll back guidance on conference spending and travel that have been in place since 2012.
According to Jennifer Douris, government affairs director at SPIE, Congress would still have to eliminate the sections within appropriations that codify these memos. This is also being recommended by OMB in its memo and in the President’s Budget.
If this happens, it appears based on the language in the memo from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney that agencies can forego the conference approval process and public reporting requirements completely. The M-17-08 memo removed reporting requirements for non-federally sponsored conferences, so this change would be mainly for government sponsored or hosted conferences.
In response, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Matt Cartwright, sent a letter urging Director Mulvaney to keep the reporting requirements in place. The letter can be found here.
A Government Executive piece titled “OMB Looks to Cut Agencies’ Workloads by Trimming Reporting Burden” can be found here. Director Mulvaney is quoted as saying that the conference reporting was inefficient and taking time away from employees who could be conducting more mission-critical work.
“I don’t think anyone sees this as a license to start goofing off again,” Mulvaney said. “And if they do, they do so at their own peril.”