• Response to Proposed OGE Amendments

    In reviewing the proposed amendments to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) in the ethics rules for US government employees issued on Sept. 13, MPI acknowledges that these amendments impact the meetings and events of more than 1,800 of our association planner members directly and has cascading impact to our industry at large.  Per the recent US Economic Impact Study the meeting and event industry alone contributes $106 billion in annual GDP, supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $25.6 billion in combined federal and state tax revenues to the US economy.  This is not a time to be putting this economic engine at-risk by having the government impose restrictions on participation.

    The proposed amendments are clearly the OGE’s efforts to extend the current gift ban which defines free attendance to events (both professional and social) as a gift.  The proposed extension prohibits not only political appointees (as it does currently), but also all US government employees from participating at no cost. This at a time when their participation within trade association events could be the very thing that helps find solutions and implement best practices to the fiscal challenges the country is currently facing- all at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

    In a time where our government faces financial shortfalls and the need to collaborate on solutions to the challenges we have domestically, economically and across all industries is critical, limiting government participation in trade association education, networking and events will create barriers to engagement at a time where collaboration is the key to working out our challenges.  

    We need federal government employees at all levels to engage with business, labor and community leaders to shape solutions that are going to affect the future of our country.  We are all part of the solution. The best way to develop collaborative solutions for all stakeholders is through fiscally responsible, well-designed and professionally implemented face-to-face meetings and events.

    We encourage our membership and our industry peers to review the proposed amendments quickly and consider their impact.  Comments on these proposed changes are due to the OGE before Nov. 14, 2011.  ContactOGE@oge.gov


    Notes:
    Economic impact statistics are gathered from the US Economic Impact Study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers that MPI jointly funded with the Convention Industry Council, US Travel Association and other leading industry associations.
    ASAE has provided a thorough review document which is located here.
  • Digesting the $16 muffin issue

    Reading JoAnne Allen’s report via Reuters on Wednesday, Sept. 21 about the US Department of Justice audit that “showed” an itemization for a meeting indicated the department paid $16 per item for 250 muffins created many reactions here at MPI headquarters and resoundingly throughout our membership. We have to be careful - one line item plucked from a bill on any event or meeting can be just as out of context as a line randomly pulled from a speech.  

    What we find sadly lacking in the discourse around this story are issues like – what were the return on the objectives and investments in these meetings, where is the strategic meetings (event portfolio) management for the Department of Justice, the significant value and cost savings of utilizing professional event planning services and agencies.

    We encourage our members, industry colleagues and friends in the hospitality and travel industry to speak out against knee-jerk, sweeping assumptions to the value of a meeting based on one line-item description.  Let’s have robust, informed discussions on how to take the skills and best practices that insure success in meetings and events, and give them the attention they need in the C-suites in the private and public sectors that will dissuade these assumptions in the future.

    Given the $263 billion and the 1.7 million jobs the meeting and event industry provides the United States economy we encourage our government and all businesses to continue to meet responsibly.

    _______________________________________________________________

    Here is the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Report.

    Additionally, here is an article by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones explaining the "Myth of the $16 Muffin".

    Note: MPI collaborates on endorsing the importance of meetings and their economic impact with U.S. Travel Association, ASAE, Convention Industry Council, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Destination Marketing Association International and other industry partners and other associations. 

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