Bill to limit conference and travel costs wouldn’t actually save money


Legislation to cap agency conference costs and limit travel would not actually save money, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday.

The 2012 General Services Administration Act (H.R. 4631) was introduced in April by Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., after details surfaced about extravagant spending on a 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas.

The bill would limit agencies’ non-military travel budgets to 70 percent of 2010 levels and require quarterly reports on all conference-related travel. Under the legislation, agencies would be prohibited from spending more than $500,000 on a single conference -- the 2010 event cost GSA $820,000. Departments also would have to post to their websites presentation materials from conferences federal employees attend.

CBO determined the extra reporting requirements and attempts to avoid travel would create new costs. “The legislation would likely shift spending on travel to other categories, such as telecommunications and computer technologies,” the estimate said. CBO expected “that such a limitation on travel expenditures would not result in significantly less total spending by federal agencies.”

CBO said implementing the bill would have no significant effect on the federal budget, adding that any change in costs resulting from the legislation would be determined by future appropriation acts.

Walsh’s office did not respond before publication to requests for comment. In late June, after the bill passed out of committee, the congressman said his legislation targeted a culture of waste and abuse in Washington. “The government should be setting an example of fiscal responsibility instead of lavishly spending taxpayer money,” Walsh said at that time.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who supported the bill in committee, said Congress’ intent is for federal agencies to economize on travel expenses and not spend the money on other programs. “The bill directs agencies to reduce travel spending by 30 percent, so savings certainly are expected,” he said after the CBO estimate, adding that the “one GSA conference and the actions of a few do not and should not reflect poorly on our dedicated federal workforce.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.