Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

November 26 2013

Congress Could Create Another Hurdle for Your Next Meeting

By Stacey Shafer

congress and meetings

Here’s something the meetings industry would not be thankful for - - more government restrictions for participating in conferences.

However, if lawmakers manage to push a new bill through the US Senate, that’s exactly what meeting professionals will face. The bill is H.R. 2061, commonly known as the DATA Act, was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and recently made its way through the House of Representatives with some pretty serious support. Just how strong was it? The final voting count was 388 - 1. Only one lawmaker voted against the bill.

At first glance, the bill doesn’t seem like a direct campaign against conventions. The DATA Act is primarily focused on making government spending more transparent with a publicly searchable database. Still, buried beneath requirements for reporting how dollars are spent, the bill also includes rules for how many of those dollars can be spent on conferences and meetings, and it does not have allowances for essential travel within federal agencies.

“This is a wake-up call for everyone involved in the meetings and convention business,” Deborah Sexton, President and CEO, Professional Convention Management Association, says. “Many decision-makers in Washington, D.C. are still failing to see the real value of sending representatives from federal agencies to conferences. We need to work together to make sure our lawmakers recognize that face-to-face fuels new ideas, new opportunities and new economic growth.”

The past year has already taken its toll on the meetings industry with sequestration cuts and a 16-day government shutdown. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research recently released statistics that highlight the impact. According to CEIR, there was a 2.1 percent year-over-year attendance decline in the third quarter of 2013.

You can help turn those sagging attendance numbers around. Click here to find your local representative and visit PCMA’s Advocacy Central for helpful tips on writing a powerful statement of support for the meetings industry.

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