Sequestration cuts force GSA to cancel two more conferences

Monday - 3/18/2013, 3:30pm EDT

Two more long-standing conferences have been sucked into the sequestration whirlpool. The General Services Administration cancelled its 15th annual SmartPay and 13th annual FedForum training conferences.

GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson confirmed the decision.

The Federal Times first reported GSA's cancellation of the conferences.

"[A]mid sequestration and governmentwide budget cuts, agencies have been forced to make tough decisions. After carefully reviewing the projected attendance for this year's conference, GSA is suspending FedForum for 2013 in an effort to use our resources responsibly, and deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people," GSA wrote on the FedForum conference website. "Even with reduced budgets, GSA understands the importance of keeping our partner agencies abreast of the latest developments in asset management as well as offerings from our industry partners."

GSA already cancelled the 2013 Expo conference set for Orlando in May because of reduced travel and training budgets under sequestration cuts.

The Office of Management and Budget in late February told agencies to think hard about spending money on travel or training.

These latest two cancellations are part of a growing list of conferences falling to sequestration. The Air Force, the Defense Department and others have decided to postpone long-standing events.

GSA planned to hold the FedForum event July 15-18 in New Orleans to train federal employees in buying and managing motor vehicles, real property, green buildings and other related topics.

The SmartPay conference, scheduled for Aug. 6-8 in Chicago, was to provide training on best practices around using and managing the government charge card.

Hobson said the number of registrants at both conferences as compared to last year was down. At the FedForum, GSA said 120 federal employees and 72 industry had registered this year, while there were 211 combined last year.

For the SmartPay conference, GSA had 151 registrants so far this year compared to 3,620 people who were set to attend by the same time last year.

Hobson said GSA hasn't spent any money this year on marketing.

"GSA is still determining costs and savings, but is confident that canceling both conferences is the most fiscally responsible action to take at this time," she said. "In addition, federal agencies will avoid travel and registration costs."

Hobson added, despite these cancellations, GSA continues to provide online training on these topics to vendors and agencies.

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