Watching the Taxpayer DIME

One area getting bipartisan support in Congress is the oversight of federal spending on travel. Two recently introduced bills look to curb ethics violations in terms of travel spending.

It's been over seven years since Congress looked this closely at federal travel following the excessive costs associated with a GSA conference in Las Vegas. This renewed look is in response to the high profile travel scandals of senior administration officials including Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, former Veterans Affairs Department Secretary David Shulkin, and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt.

The 2019 Taxpayers Don't Incur Meaningless Expenses (Taxpayers DIME) Act would require federal agencies to report to Congress each quarter on the travel of any senior official on government aircraft. Bill sponsor, Rep. Tom O'Halleran said, "We must hold our government leaders to the highest standards, and with so many high-profile ethics violations in the past years, it is clear we have failed to do that. No matter who controls Congress or the White House, we have to hold everyone accountable."

Another bill looks beyond senior officials, ensuring that all federal employees traveling are spending taxpayer dollars at facilities that have proven to have ethical practices. It specifically encourages employees to stay in hotels that have taken action to reduce human trafficking on their premises. To do this, GSA would create a list of hotels that have taken proven steps to train their workforce to recognize and report human trafficking.

So what does this mean for event planners and attendees?

When planning events, keep in mind that government attendees will have to abide by these rules and keep the locations easily accessible by commercial travel options. Look at policies of hotels and venues around how they educate staff on human trafficking (and other social issues) and choose those that have defined plans and programs in place. For attendees, it's more important than ever to fully investigate and vet travel plans and expenses to ensure that there are no violations, or even perceived violations, of ethical standards.

Let us know your thoughts on this pending legislation and how you ensure compliance with federal travel regulations. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

The Great Cyber Convergence in 2015: AFCEA Speaks

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

Originally posted on BreakingDefense by 

Technology is moving too fast to keep track of everything, but there's one overarching trend that policymakers must not miss in 2015. Call it "convergence."

Cybersecurity is no longer its own specialized function for tech geeks to take care of off to one side while the rest of the organization gets on with the real mission. To the contrary, cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly central concern for more and more institutions, from Sony Pictures to the US Army, from Marine Corps drone units to Pentagon cloud computing contractors. Integrating the new technology into operations will require new concepts, sustained funding, and open communications between government and industry -- none of which is guaranteed in 2015. Continue reading

A Message from AIAA’s Executive Director

Originally posted by AIAA

Dear Colleague,

As we start 2013, there is little doubt that the full impact of 2012 events has yet to play out. In 2012 we witnessed a "perfect storm" of the fallout from a scandal within a federal agency - the General Services Administration (GSA) - and the failure of Congress and the White House to achieve meaningful budgetary progress. This combination has left our Institute facing an atmosphere of tightening government travel rules and shrinking agency budgets - both of which threaten the long-term viability of AIAA.

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GSA outlines progress cracking down on bonuses, pricey conferences

Originally posted by Charles S. Clark on GovExec

The test of whether a federal performance bonus is merited is "whether I can explain it at a Senate hearing," acting General Services Administration chief Dan Tangherlini told a Senate panel Wednesday. Bonuses should be given only for "special, exemplary, extremely justifiable acts," he added, and "the quality of our work should not be dependent on a bonus award but on commitment" to mission.

Tangherlini appeared with GSA Inspector General Brian Miller before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to respond to senators' reviews of lengthy committee questionnaires the agency had completed as part of the ongoing fallout from the April 2012 scandal over lavish spending on entertainment at a GSA training conference in Las Vegas.

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Sequestration worries speakers at defense forum

Posted by Thomas Gnau on Dayton Daily News

The specter of sequestration loomed large over the 2012 Dayton Small Business Defense Procurement Summit on August 29.

The possibility of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts to the Department of Defense was a hot topic as entrepreneurs and DoD officials gathered at the Dayton Convention Center to discuss how small businesses can land contracts with the U.S. Air Force and other military departments.

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