Agency disputes claim of multimillion-dollar conference

By Eric Katz

July 16, 2012

Government officials have disputed a lawmaker’s claims of a seven-figure price tag for a conference held near Disney World, according to The Washington Examiner.

Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., said last week the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership spent between $3 million and $5 million for an annual conference. A spokeswoman for NIST MEP, however, said the bill was actually $670,000.

“No federal funds were spent on catering, entertainment or alcohol,” Gail Porter, NIST MEP spokeswoman, told The Examiner. “Any reception and entertainment costs associated with this conference were paid for entirely by private sector resources.”

Adams dismissed the agency’s claims and said she will continue with plans for a congressional investigation.

“On the heels of discovering the General Services Administration’s misuse of taxpayer funds, Congress has a duty to provide oversight and hold these government agencies accountable,” Adams said in a statement.

She added the NIST MEP numbers were part of a “semantics game” and no matter what the final cost turns out to be, there was “gross mismanagement of taxpayer funds.”

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership is made up of more than 400 centers and field offices that attempt to improve productivity and competitiveness of primarily small- and medium-size U.S.-based manufacturing firms. It has held its Orlando conference annually since 2006.

CORRECTION: The story has been updated to reflect the conference was held near, not in, Disney World.


By Eric Katz

July 16, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2012/07/agency-disputes-claim-multimillion-dollar-conference/56801/