Amendment to Postal Bill Could Limit Government Agency Participation in Conferences

May 8, 2012 - ┬áRecently, the Senate approved  S.1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, which included an amendment placing restrictions on government employees attending meetings and conferences. Similar provisions are included in H.R. 2146, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

Presumably in response to the Congressional inquiry into expenses associated with General Services Administration (GSA) conferences, the legislation would limit the number of conferences federal agencies can hold annually and the amount agencies can spend on each event at no more than $500,000.

NASCUS co-signed with other associations and professional societies in an American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) letter encouraging Congress to amend this legislation. As presented, the legislation could restrict dialogue between the private sector and the federal government.

NASCUS President and CEO Mary Martha Fortney said that while it's premature to know what impact this legislation could have on the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) and other federal regulators' ability to meet and participate in conferences with state regulators and credit unions, it is important for Congress to recognize the possible negative implications of such legislation. "The dialogue that takes place among the states, industry and federal regulators is of critical importance," said Fortney. "While there should be transparency and accountability, this legislation could place unintended limitations on the mechanisms for interaction and communication."

The bill would also limit participation by federal agencies to one conference sponsored by an organization per year and restrict the number of government employees who can attend international conferences. It would also put a cap on non-military spending to attend conferences at 80 percent of fiscal 2010 levels.

To view the provisions of the bill approved by the Senate, see Sec. 501 of S. 1789.