There are two sides to every story. Within the association world, there is buzz about several bills that have been introduced that would reduce government employee travel to educational conferences and tradeshows. In response to the IRS conferences, the GSA travel from a couple of years ago, and general questioning of government spending when sequestration is still causing havoc, these bills seem pretty positive.
But wait … one of these bills – H.R. 2643, the “Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013” – is actually a bill that, as a systems integrator, you should very much support.
This bill actually requires the use of video conferencing, and government employees would need to track the amount of time they spend utilizing this technology. All of a sudden, the need for not only the public sector, but now private industry, to finally embrace this technology on a regular basis would be required. The business opportunities could be abundant if the bill were to pass.
Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the “Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act” in an effort to force government to become more efficient and less wasteful in their spending. It has received a significant amount of bi-partisan support.
Two other bills – H.R. 2533, the “Stop Playing on Citizens Cash Act,” and H.R. 313, the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2013” – both address the need to reduce government employee travel expenses, but the “Stay in Place” bill is actually beneficial for our industry.
Fitzpatrick specifically called out video conferencing as a “still a largely untapped means of saving taxpayer dollars,” and a great way to increase business opportunities for the video-conferencing industry. The “Stay in Place” bill directs OMB to develop a plan to use video conferencing to achieve a 50% reduction in agencies’ current travel budgets to take effect in fiscal year 2017.
While the association for associations is encouraging members to oppose these three bills, and most might actually agree, NSCA has to say that we support the “Stay in Place” bill. We witness first-hand the benefits of having government employees attend conferences and tradeshows. The education and interaction between constituents and government officials is critical – it offers insight into policy or leads on business opportunities, but now there is a push to make this become even more virtual through the use of technology.
This bill also indicates the significance of having representatives in D.C. advocating for your business and its employees, since they may not be able to come to you in the near future.
Stay tuned … if you haven’t already, video conferencing might be the next technology you add to your company’s resume.