DoD calls off annual procurement conference

Tuesday - 5/1/2012, 8:37pm EDT

Defense Department officials have called off large annual contracting-focused conference just weeks before it was set to begin.

The invitation-only DoD Procurement Conference and Training Symposium was to have taken place in Orlando, Fla. Between May 21 and May 24. A notice posted on a department website said officials had decided they needed more time to better align the training programs with DoD acquisition policy. It wasn't immediately clear whether recent backlash against agency-sponsored conferences in the wake of the General Services Administration scandal played a role in the decision.

An industry source who had planned to participate in the conference said attendees weren't notified of the cancellation by DoD, but rather by the Orlando hotels where they had booked rooms. Participants were told they would not be charged for conference fees or hotel rooms, but would be on the hook for any airfare they had already booked.

"We were all stunned by the news and how we were first alerted," the attendee said.

The DoD notice indicated that officials expect to reschedule the conference for later this year.

DoD's director of Defense pricing and director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy, which organized the conference, originally expected 1,600 attendees from government and industry. Topics were to include affordability and cost growth control, productivity and innovation, competition, negotiations, small business participation, and services acquisition policies related to DoD's Better Buying Power initiative.

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