Meeting News - March 1, 2010 - (Page 4)

News The debate has played out in corporate and association boardrooms for much of the past year, but this time, during a February House subcommittee hearing titled “Furthering the Mission or Having Fun: Lax Travel Policies Cost DHS Millions,” the prosecution of unconstrained meetings spending and the defense of face-to-face events went live— and in person—on Capitol Hill. The hearing served as a reminder of the increased scrutiny meetings spending has gained in the past 18 months, an affirmation of concepts deemed by some to be best practices in meetings management—from measuring return on investment to adopting strategic meetings management practices—and yet one more symbol of what can happen when an organization, particularly a public one, engages in what could be deemed to be frivolous travel and meetings spending. The purpose of the hearing, according to Rep. Chris Carney (DPenn.), chairman of the House subcommittee on management, investigations and oversight for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was to examine the “lack of internal controls, governing policies, oversight and reporting of conference than 45 pages, was a DHS inspector general report that found the agency did not have adequate policies in place to monitor or govern conference spending. “Most alarmingly,” By Jay Boehmer Congress Turns Up Heat On DHS Meeting Policies, Spending lack of internal controls, minimal oversight and insufficient reporting throughout the entire department.” Thompson pointed to several conferences on which the department spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with little justification for those purchasing decisions. He stressed, “by no means am I purporting that department personnel should not attend conferences or outside training that are reasonable and support the homeland security mission.” Still, Thompson said, “In the vast majority of these instances, the department had not performed cost comparisons to ensure that it was getting the best price available, properly tracked its spending to make certain that it was on par with other budgetary needs or required justification for expenditures so that it could be shown that legitimate purposes were fulfilled. None of these things happened, leaving both Congress and the public with the question: What did we get for our money?” According to the report, the spending data received from DHS was “unreliable, unverifiable and contained little assurance that components properly tracked or accounted for all conferences and related costs.” At the investigation’s end, the IG made 12 recommendations to bolster oversight, build internal controls and heighten accountability for spending. Without using meetings industry continued on page 50 “The report revealed the money spent and lack of department controls, oversight and reporting. —House Homeland Security Committee chair Thompson (D-Miss.) ” planning and spending practices” at DHS, which is estimated to have spent $110 million on “conferencerelated activities” between 2005 and 2007—estimated, not confirmed, because the agency didn’t have proper controls to measure spending. Exhibit A, weighing in at more Contents34, No. 3 March 1, 2010 Vol. ■ Newsmaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 ■ Meetings Spotlight . . . . . . . 10 ■ Viewpoint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 ■ Event Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 ■ Meeting People . . . . . . . . . 18 ■ Travel Dashboard . . . . . . . . 20 ■ Construction Cites . . . . . . . 22 ■ MeetingNews Research . . . . 24 ■ Citywide Meetings . . . . . . . 28 ■ Dateline: Florida . . . . . . . . 30 ■ Mid-America Regional . . . . 46 ■ Dateline: Tennessee . . . . . . 48 Carney said of the report, “a DHS official said there is no reason to track conference expenditures because there are no spending restrictions.” Though Carney stressed that the “members of this subcommittee understand the importance of government travel, including the jobs that are supported by this travel,”the hearing aimed to determine “whether conference spending and attendance at these events were a prudent use of taxpayer dollars.” Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said,“The report revealed an extremely troubling picture of not only the amount of money spent, but also a MEETING NEWS (ISSN 0145-630X, USPS No.356-010, March 1, 2010, Vol. 34, No. 3 is published monthly by Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-9595, tel. 646-654-5000. Subscriptions are offered free of charge to individuals actively engaged in planning meetings or conventions in the U.S. and Canada. The cost of a subscription to non-qualified subscribers is $79 in the U.S. and $95 in Canada (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729). The cost of a foreign subscription, payable in U.S. dollars, is $195. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. MeetingNews is a trademark owned exclusively by Nielsen Business Media. Copyright © 2010 by Nielsen Business Media Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this magazine, in whole or in part, is prohibited unless authorized by the publisher. 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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - March 1, 2010

Meeting News - March 1, 2010
Meetings Spotlight
Event Profile
Meeting People
Travel Dashboard
Construction Cites
MeetingNews Research
Citywide Meetings
Dateline: Florida
Mid-America Regional
Dateline: Tennessee

Meeting News - March 1, 2010