New Bill Looks to Tame Lavish Government Conferences

by Andrew Johnson

A new bill may be a buzzkill for the GSA, IRS, and other federal agencies: The extravagent conferences, the swanky digs, and the costly training videos may be coming to an end.

After news of lavish conferences held by various departments in recent years, representatives congressmen Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.) and Ron Kind (D., Wis.) have introduced the Transparency Requirements for Agency Conferences and Events (TRACE) Act this week. The bipartisan legislation would require detailed information about a conference’s costs, speakers, attendees, itinerary, and evidence that it meets “valid civic purposes” at least a month before it begins. The information would be made public with the goal of reining in excessive spending on the events.

In response to widespread criticism of the wasteful spending, the federal government has taken some steps to prevent further overindulgence. Last month, the OMB set guidelines for cutting back on the events. Meanwhile, the IRS, which came under fire for spending millions on recent conferences, has imposed restrictions on excessive spending on events; the agency also conceded earlier this year that its Star Trek- and Gilligan’s Island-themed training videos were wasteful.

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