Budget

Expect fewer feds on 2013 event circuit

empty conference room

Budget cuts and tighter rules are expected to keep feds from traveling to as many conferences as they omce did. (Stock image)

Further belt-tightening is putting the kibosh on conference attendance, and a significant number of federal employees say they will attend fewer educational and trade events this year compared to 2012.

A poll of 400 federal employees by market research firm Market Connections, Inc. found that tighter budgets (78 percent) and travel restrictions (58 percent) were key reason why nearly 40 percent said they plan on going to fewer events this year than previously. More than 35 percent also said their managers will not allow them to attend events in fiscal year 2013.

Less than one third said they will continue to attend the same number of events, and just 5 percent said they intend to attend more events than in last year.

The online poll also shows the majority of respondents prefer smaller, content-specific events (58 percent) over large trade shows with multiple vendors (40 percent). In addition, around 70 percent are more likely to attend local events where no hotel is needed or events hosted by trade associations. Additionally, more feds prefer multiday conferences as opposed to half or single-day events.

Despite the growing popularity of webinars and online events, 80 percent of feds still prefer brick-and-mortar conferences. Roughly 60 percent said their main reason for attending a trade show is to stay on top of current technologies and concepts, while 27 percent cited networking opportunities with government. Sixteen percent reported connecting with industry peers as the main motivator.

“As we expected, the current budget environment will have a major impact on event attendance by government employees and decision makers in 2013," Lisa Dezzutti, president and CEO of Market Connections, said in a statement. “This poll shows government contractors should consider participating in or hosting smaller, more content-specific events closer to home, and seeking out alternative methods for reaching the government customer, whether through thought leadership, traditional marketing communications or social media outreach."

The survey findings come nearly eight months after Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients released a memo calling on agencies to spend 30 percent less on travel expenses in fiscal 2013 than fiscal 2010. Agencies were also directed to look at all planned events and not spend more than $500,000 on a single conference. Any conference exceeding $100,000 now requires details to be published on the agency website in an effort to increase transparency.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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