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More conferences fall victim to tight budgets

Originally posted by Eric Yoder on The Washington Post

Add two annual conferences on federal employee benefits to the list of meetings that have fallen victim to the current fiscal climate.

The Office of Personnel Management told agencies Wednesday that "based on the current budgetary situation facing Federal agencies," it is canceling its 2013 Benefits Conference, which last year was held in June, and its Fall Festival of Training, held last year in November. "Our survey of headquarters benefits officers indicated very few benefit officers will be able to attend this year," it said.

"We will work to develop alternative training opportunities such as webcasts during the rest of this year. While they will not be a complete, nor in some ways sufficient, substitute for the conference, they will allow us to continue providing training for benefits officers on critical issues," the message to agencies said.

The conferences are geared toward educating federal benefits officers about the details of employee benefits, improving their counseling skills and similar instruction.

The General Services Administration similarly recently canceled several conferences, also citing expected low attendance. Under guidance from the Office of Management Budget and internal policies, agencies are limiting spending on travel, training, conferences and similar expenses.

OPM said it plans to conduct a benefits training event in Pittsburgh next spring.