May 24, 2012

NBAA has joined about 2,100 signatories to a letter to members of Congress, urging them to consider revising proposed legislation that would severely restrict federal government employees’ attendance at association meetings and conferences. The letter, authored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), was sent to congressional representatives on May 7. It came in response to two amendments included in separate House and Senate bills.

Separately, President Barack Obama’s administration also has issued a directive to federal agencies to cut their travel budgets for fiscal year 2013 by 30 percent and cap spending on government-sponsored conferences at $500,000. These new restrictions apply only to government travel and conference spending.

Review the Office of Management and Budget memorandum (1.2 MB, PDF)

Among other things, the amendments in the two bills would limit any federal agency from spending money on, “more than a single conference sponsored or organized by an organization during any fiscal year, unless the agency is the primary sponsor and organizer of the conference.” ASAE and the letter’s signers argue that the measures are overly broad and would severely limit the ability of representatives of federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), from attending important events and conferences, including the educational sessions at NBAA’s Annual Meeting & Convention and other regional events, seminars and forums.

“However well intentioned, the provisions noted above have broad implications for associations and other non-governmental organizations that invite government employees to give presentations or attend their conferences,” ASAE said in the letter. “Without modifications, the provisions could discourage government attendance at educational conferences and hinder the necessary interchange between government and the private sector.”

Review the ASAE letter (633KB, PDF)

Lisa Piccione, NBAA senior vice president of government affairs, agreed, saying that officials from the FAA and other government agencies regularly participate in NBAA meetings, conferences and seminars.

“Over the course of any year, ongoing and constructive dialogue between the industry and the government is critical,” and that’s the kind of dialogue that takes place when high-ranking government officials participate in NBAA’s events, said Lisa Piccione, NBAA senior vice president of government affairs. “We think it’s important not to put restrictions on the ability of representatives from federal agencies to attend our meetings and conferences to discuss important technical and policy information.”

Piccione and others involved in the effort to urge Congress to revise these proposals say that even though the letter has been filed, NBAA Members can help by continuing to write their congressional representatives requesting their support.

For more information, contact Piccione at