The U.S. Office of Government Ethics plans to severely limit the ability of federal government employees to attend events sponsored by industry trade groups. And industry and business alike are pushing back.
Says Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which owns and produces CES, the world’s largest technology trade show:
“As we increasingly restrict the ability of government employees to participate in these events we hurt smaller U.S. companies that rely on trade shows to display their wares. If we want to increase our exports, we need government to view these events as part of our national strategy to encourage jobs and exports. The International CES attracts more than 30,000 visitors from overseas, including many government officials. The present White House restrictions on political appointee participation is embarrassing, problematic and not helpful to our hosting responsibilities.
"They also hinder efforts to expand travel to the U.S. Extending this requirement to career civil servants will deny government employees the ability to learn about what is happening in business, forge relationships and understand how their actions impact jobs-creating businesses."
Says Steven Hacker, FSAE, CAE, president of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events:
"This reckless intrusion into commerce, if adopted, will further isolate regulators from the industries they must understand. The learning and communications that routinely take place during trade events are among the most important ways that government officials and business leaders can exchange views and ideas.
"The very predictable results of this kind of Orwellian measure is to ensure that the U.S. economy will continue to be mired in uncertainty and fear that will only prolong the destructive levels of unemployment and economic malaise that have characterized the last three years. All responsible leaders of the business community, for profit companies as well as not for profit associations, must view this latest attack by the federal government on business as a call to arms. We must come together to reject this absurd and potentially harmful set of rules or we will have only ourselves to blame."