You may have heard the news by now. If not, though, let me catch you up. FCW recently reported that the General Services Administration (GSA) is considering implementing a Meetings Management Program (MMP) for itself.
“The MMP would offer a disciplined, enterprise-wide approach to managing conferences and events, including the activities, processes, suppliers and data regarding the meetings,” Matthew Weigelt reported. “The program would aim to save money, mitigate risk and improve meetings overall. The scope of the services, or level of complexity an agency orders, would be based on each agency’s own requirements.”
What could this mean for the industry at large?
“When the GSA scandal broke, we all questioned why the agency wasn’t responding with data showing that its meeting was worth the spend,” said Jessie States, MPI’s content and education manager. “The lack of this information directly reflected our own research—that less than five percent of meetings are measured for business value. But we’re seeing more interest in this area. Measurement and strategic meetings management sessions are becoming more popular among our members and at our partner events. It’s with this knowledge that I’m pleased, but not necessarily surprised, by the news that GSA has launched an MMP. The next time taxpayers question a GSA events’ necessity, the agency will have the facts it needs to present a business case.”
GSA officials wrote in a Request for Information that the corporate world has adopted meeting management programs, and that they’re seeking to see how a similar program would work on the federal level.
“A MMP would afford a government agency the ability to tailor meetings management to meet their needs while controlling meeting spend, and consolidating meeting and event planning into a centralized planning office,” the RFI says. “MMP offers a comprehensive approach to what has been a decentralized function.”
GSA’s direction toward centralization is a positive step forward, says Roger Rickard, founder of Voices In Advocacy and president of Revent.
“Any attempt by government to become more efficient and effective in the meeting process should be seen as a positive sign that GSA understands the organizational value of face-to-face engagement,” he said.
Still, contracting services may not be the best approach.
“There are so many highly qualified federal government planners—some with CMPs, some with CGMPs—who could do this versus contracting it out,” said Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Associates LLC. “If I understand what was written, they want to contract this, thinking it will save money. Why in the world would they do that when most government contractors have mark-up on their prices, when the Feds have qualified people, when, through the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, they could get assistance to put internal staff in place?”
That’s a great question, and one of many to consider about this topic. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.