Army attendance at non-DOD conferences banned for the rest of the year

The fallout continues over the General Services Administration’s $800,000 conference, with Secretary of the Army John McHugh suspending all Army attendance at non-Defense Department conferences for the remainder of the year.

“I am suspending Army attendance at non-DOD conferences between now and December 31, 2012, unless I previously approved attendance, for example, the AUSA Annual Meeting, or an exception is granted,” wrote McHugh in an October 17 memorandum obtained by Defense Systems.

Commanders of Army commands, Army service component commands and direct reporting units (headed by a general officer or member of the Senior Executive Services) or Headquarters, Department of the Army principal official must endorse exception requests.

McHugh made it clear in his memo that he expects that requests for attendance at non-DOD conferences be disapproved.

“We must continue to implement more cost effective and efficient methods to train, plan, collaborate and disseminate information,” he wrote. “Experience has shown that conferences are an expensive means of accomplishing these goals, and the need for each conference must be indisputable in the current environment of declining resources.

“Before acting on conference requests, authorities at the command and principal official level should begin their respective reviews by presuming that the physical collocation associated with a conference activity is not required in most cases. I expect you to disapprove conference requests that do no comply with this guidance.”

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 7, 2012

We are concerned about an $800,000 conference, yet it's okay for politicians to spend over 500 million on campaign advertising?

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 Paul

I know I'm preaching to the choir but this is really a destructive move. It's difficult enough to do our jobs effectively without the addition of cutting of all contact with the other services or other Federal agencies. The potential cost to Soldiers lives is inexcusable. A conference is not like a classroom where didactic instruction is the only purpose.

Wed, Nov 7, 2012

What a croc! There is very little time left in the year and practically no one wants to have a conference too close to Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. So, in what little time is left for conferences, nearly anything else this year would have already been approved by the time this memorandum takes effect. This announcement is nothing more than grandstanding.

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