GSA axes 2014 expo for second year

Friday - 1/24/2014, 2:50pm EST

GSA is axing its annual Expo conference.

"The GSA Training and Expo has provided a valuable forum for our partners to receive acquisition training and for government and industry to interact and share business information," a notice on the event's website states. "However, in the current fiscal climate, agencies and businesses alike continue to make tough spending cuts and operate under reduced travel budgets. After careful review of projected attendance and continued travel budget reductions, GSA has made the decision to not hold an Expo in 2014. "

It's the second year in a row the agency's signature conference has been called off.

Last year, GSA canceled the expo, which was planned for Orlando, citing similar concerns about budget pressures and the onset of across- the-board sequestration budget cuts.

Meanwhile, GSA is also phasing out its traditional SmartPay training conference in favor of a virtual forum, which will be held in the spring or summer of this year, according to GSA's website. GSA outright canceled the SmartPay conference, which provides training on best practices for managing government charge cards, last year.

The conference changes were first reported by Federal Times.

GSA is still looking into "the most effective way" to offer an expo next year that will "deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people," according to a notice on the website.

Conferences fall after sequestration, greater scrutiny

Revelations of over-the-top conference spending at the Veterans Affairs Department, the Internal Revenue Service and, most notably, at GSA combined with sequestration-driven fiscal constraints have put the kibosh on many large-scale agency conferences.

In 2012, then-GSA administrator Martha Johnson resigned and several officials were fired after the agency's auditor uncovered excessive spending at a 2010 Las Vegas regional GSA conference.

Reacting to the conference-spending scandals that year, the White House's Office of Management and Budget ordered agencies to cut travel spending by 30 percent and prohibited more than $500,000 to be spent on conferences.

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