Two leading House Democrats on federal workplace issues have asked OMB to retain oversight requirements on agency conference spending that would be eliminated under a recently issued memo.
Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania cited the IG reports and congressional hearings into excessive spending by agencies including the GSA, IRS and VA that triggered the original restrictions. Those included a requirement for approval by the agency head of any conference costing more than $100,000, a requirement that agencies post on their websites information on any such conferences, and a general prohibitions on those costing more than $500,000.
However, those requirements would be repealed by OMB memo M-17-26, which eliminates as outdated a number of reporting requirements under prior memos and guidance. Separately, Congress has annually added provisions to annual appropriations bills requiring quarterly reports on any conferences costing more than $20,000 and detailed annual reports on conferences costing more than $100,000.
The recent memo “could reverse the progress we have made to restrain excessive spending and could reduce the transparency needed to protect against waste, fraud and abuse,” the two wrote, suggesting that OMB work with them to keep such controls in place.