GSA postpones conference as part of 'top to bottom review'

An upcoming General Services Administration conference has been scrubbed as officials seek ways to disseminate information without requiring travel and hotel accommodations. The move is an apparent reaction to the recent revelations of spending abuses that took place in 2010.

The 2012 Government Web and New Media Conference had been scheduled for May 16 and 17 in Washington, DC. GSA sent an e-mail message to registered attendees on May 11 promising reimbursements and instructing recipients to cancel hotel reservations. The e-mail told recipients to check the conference website for information about how GSA's DigitalGov University would provide the content in lieu of the conference.

Officials said the cancellation was "part of an ongoing top to bottom review of GSA’s operations, including all conference spending." Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini has reiterated in the past month that he is conducting a thorough review of the agency’s spending on conferences.

Despite the attention that came via the GSA Inspector General's report on the Western Regions Conference of 2010, conferences are useful, said Ken Allen, executive director of American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council, which works with government on conference and events.

GSA should do these reviews in light of what the IG uncovered, Allen said. Officials will be able to show Congress and the public that conferences, with their face-to-face interactions and training, are valuable for improving government.

“The reviews will help to show the universal value of these collaborative forums,” he said.

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Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Mon, May 14, 2012

If only there was a way to "disseminate information without requiring travel and hotel accommodations" wow... now that would be something.... Perhaps GSA should call upon an innovated telework winner! http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/286565 Ohhh wait...

Mon, May 14, 2012

In light of the topic of this conference -- Government Web and New Media -- it is a particularly good candidate to be conducted virtually. A performance plan should be compiled for the conference and, consistent with section 10 of the GPRA Modernization Act, it should be published on GSA's website in (open, standard) machine-readable format, like StratML. The objectives of the conference should be explicitly linked to GSA's strategic objectives; performance indicators should be specified; the required outputs should be produced prior to and during the conference, and the degree to which the desired outcomes are achieved should be reported on an ongoing basis (in open, standard, machine-readable format) on GSA's website.

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