COMMENTARY

Limiting conference attendance fixes the wrong problem

Just when we thought the whole Las Vegas conference mess would go away, we get helpful suggestions from Congress in the form of amendments to completely unrelated legislation. The Issa/Coburn plan attempts to define and constrain government support of conferences and events. In the process, it gathers under its restrictions almost every kind of scientific meeting or educational conference, including many in this market. (Full disclosure: 1105 Media produces FOSE and other conferences that could be affected by these rules.)

The bigger issues include financial disclosure rules, approvals by the head of the agency and limitations on the number of conferences by a single organizer that federal employees may attend in a year. Regardless of the intent, the legislation is already having a chilling effect on government/industry communications.

Several high-level speakers from the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies have pulled out of conferences in recent weeks. Other executives are reluctant to commit to speaking at, or even attending, conferences for fear of attracting attention for the wrong reasons.

Conferences have been one of the safer ways to exchange information and ideas among all the players in this market. Government can talk about its special needs and challenges, and industry can learn where a new technical solution might be applied.

OMB’s 25-point plan for reforming IT management urges government to increase its engagement with industry. “The government benefits when there is broad engagement with industry before beginning an IT project,” the document states.

The irony, of course, is that the General Services Administration’s conference was not really about interacting with industry. It was an internally focused event. So let’s urge Congress to refrain from fixing the wrong thing. Lots of suggestions have been offered to address the spending and management issues that led to the over-the-top Public Buildings Service conference. We need conferences because in-person events are one of the few clear channels left for communication.

About the Author

Anne Armstrong is Co-President & Chief Content Officer of 1105 Public Sector Media Group.

 

 


The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above