At least three bills introduced the week of April 16th—in the wake of the GSA scandal—would dramatically slash federal agency funds for conferences and off-site meetings while making it easier for Congress, watchdogs and the general public to track federal spending.
An amendment set for consideration as part of a massive bill reforming the U.S. Postal Service would require government agencies to justify the cost and locations of any off-site meetings and to provide quarterly reports detailing the number of federal employees and other guests invited to the conference.
The Conference Accountability Amendment, introduced Thursday by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), would cap agency spending on a single conference at $500,000 unless the agency is a primary sponsor.
“This transparency will allow taxpayers, the media and Congress to see who is traveling where and how often to ensure greater and more timely accountability,” Coburn’s office said in a statement.
The agency would have to post a quarterly conference report on its Web site, including an explanation of how the meetings helped advance the agency’s mission; the total cost of attendance and other costs; the primary sponsors of the conference; its location and why the site was chosen; the number of people invited and their job titles; who paid for people to attend; and all meeting minutes, presentations and recordings.
Outside companies, nonprofits and other foundations would be permitted to provide financial support for agency conferences, but agencies would have to certify that there is no direct conflict of interest in receiving such funding.
Courtesy of The Washington Post