As concerned members of the meeting and event industry you are undoubtedly aware of and following closely the escalating state of affairs surrounding the General Services Administration (GSA). We, at MPI, have been closely monitoring and reporting the story to you throughout the month of April on MPI’s blogs and website.
On April 25, the US House and Senate both voted to approve two separate amendments to two separate proposed pieces of legislation that would strictly limit the spending by government agencies for the purposes of holding future conferences and events (see the amendment language and MPI’s specific concerns here). We are especially concerned that potential ripple effects of this legislation will be felt by all MPI members—not just those in the government sector.
It is important to note that the proposed legislation has not yet received approval from both houses of Congress and is a long way from being signed into law by President Obama—so there is still time for us to stand up and have our voices heard. We are therefore working closely with ASAE and other industry associations, as well as the US Travel Association, to inform and educate legislators of the potential impact, unintended or otherwise, that this legislation will have on the US economy if signed into law. You can join the collective meeting and event industry’s effort by sending your own letter (click here for a sample) to your Congressmen (find your Congressmen’s contact info here).
Along with sending your own letter, MPI also encourages you sign on to ASAE’s industry-wide petition to Congress. ASAE will be collecting support before sending an open letter to Congress representing our industry.
Our industry’s message is simple: The gross mismanagement of any public trust should be dealt with immediately and stridently, which it has been. But, that the across-the-board imposition restricting government employee attendance at conferences and events is also negligent and irresponsible and will only further disrupt our nation’s recovering economy.
Now more than ever, it is vital that we stand together as the MPI community and also that we properly prepare ourselves to clearly describe to anyone the diverse business value of face-to-face events. MPI offers its members an arsenal of tools to aide in the preparation for these presentations.
MPI will continue to closely monitor the situation and will post regular updates for you on our website (www.mpiweb.org).
UPDATE: After press time we learned that Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada) has introduced a bill to ensure that Las Vegas is not blacklisted for future meetings and conferences following Congressional hearings focused on GSA spending for a meeting in that city. U.S. Travel strongly supports this legislation and will advocate for quick action on the bill in the U.S. House. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) plans to introduce a similar bill.
UPDATE NO. 2: (From the U.S. Travel Association) "In addition to the letter by ASAE, U.S. Travel is undertaking an effort on Capitol Hill to ensure that the Senator Tom Coburn's (R-OK) amendment and similar proposals do not permanently harm the meetings, convention and events industry. We will be meeting with lawmakers to improve several provisions of the DATA Act (H.R. 2146) and the '21st Century Postal Service Act' (S. 1789), which indiscriminately cut federal travel budgets and require federal agencies to post competitive pricing information on the Internet for all government conferences. For your convenience, U.S. Travel has compiled a one-pager of talking points related to the GSA's actions and the current situation."