Industry Opposes Bill to Limit Government Participation in Meetings

Earlier this summer, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) (pictured) introduced in Congress the "Stay in Place, Cut the Waste" Act of 2015 (H.R. 2810). If passed, the law would replace up to 50 percent of all government business travel with videoconferencing as a substitute for face-to-face meetings.

On behalf of the meetings industry, the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalition responded this week with a letter acknowledging Fitzpatrick's good intentions -- to promote government efficiency -- but asking him to revise his bill in a way that will help rather than hinder government productivity. 

"We are deeply concerned with the provisions of this bill," said David Peckinpaugh, MMB co-chair and president of Maritz Travel. "Research shows that well planned in-person meetings are essential; they allow for the productive exchange of ideas across industry, academia, and government and are a critical component of government employee education and training. Virtual meetings and teleconferences are useful tools that complement in-person meetings, but should not replace them."

MMB's letter, which has 36 signatories from across the meetings and events industry, states:

"While MMB strongly supports efforts to conserve taxpayer resources and ensure that government meetings serve the public interest, we believe that H.R. 2810 as currently drafted could increase federal spending, reduce efficiency and effectiveness, and harm the federal government's ability to perform important functions.

"Congress and federal workers rely on in-person meetings and travel as indispensable tools to do their jobs effectively. Face-to-face meetings enable successful information sharing, employee training and development, taxpayer services, and collaboration with other agencies and private-sector partners in a way that cannot be accomplished by other means."

Federal employees agree, according to MMB, which cited recent research showing that nine out of 10 government workers believe face-to-face meetings are important for advancing their agencies' mission.

Concluded Michael Dominguez, MMB co-chair and senior vice president of corporate sales at MGM Resorts International, "MMB is committed to being vigilant and appropriately vocal on this issue. We welcome the opportunity to work with Rep. Fitzpatrick to improve the bill and serve the public interest."

Check out the all-new MeetingNews Minute, featuring exclusive research on industry trends!