Army spent 13 times as much on 2010 conference as GSA spent in Vegas

U.S. Army

The Army in 2010 spent $10.7 million on an educational conference, roughly 13 times the amount that the General Services Administration spent on a controversial training event in Las Vegas that year, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek.

According to records obtained by Businessweek through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Army spent $10.7 million on its annual three-day conference organized by the Association for the U.S. Army, an Arlington, Va.-based advocacy group. It spent another $10.6 million on that same conference in 2011, the report said. In total, taxpayers paid $37.7 million during the past four years for 9,805 service members and civilians to participate in the conference, Businessweek found.

The report comes as Congress is investigating several incidences of overspending on conferences in the federal government. In addition to GSA’s $820,000 Las Vegas conference, which included a mind reader and commemorative coins, the Veterans Affairs Department has come under fire for two 2011 human resources training events in Florida that together cost $6.1 million and had 1,800 attendees. Part of that cost was a $50,000 video spoofing the movie “Patton.”

Army spokesman Michael Brady told Businessweek that “a comparison to GSA or even VA would not only be inaccurate, but unfair.” Brady described the three-day Army conference as “an education forum on topics such as cyber warfare for military members, civilians, lawmakers and journalists and not an occasion for feting employees.” He said the Army understands the importance of reining in spending and told the publication in an interview that although the Army attends the conference, “we do not put this on.”

He added: “They got in trouble for spa treatments and iPods. That just doesn’t happen here.”

The Army accounts for as much as a quarter of the conference’s attendance, and the event commands about 35,000 participants and 600 industry and military exhibits. This year’s conference, which takes place next week, will cost $1.3 million for 400 attendees, an 88 percent reduction from prior years, but still significantly more than the GSA spent on the Las Vegas conference for about 300 attendees, according to the records obtained by Businessweek. The report also noted a July memo indicating that the Army would allow just 10 organizations and commands to display exhibits at this year’s event.

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.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


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