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Does government travel for meetings lead to greater efficiency?


WASHINGTON – When its employees travel to meetings and conferences, government is more efficient and effective, according to a study by Rockport Analytics for the U.S. Travel Association. Cancelled government participation in key events also carried significant costs, the study said.

“The Value of Government Meetings” report is the first to evaluate the impact of cuts in government travel budgets on the public and private sectors.

“Public agencies at all levels of U.S. government have made deep cuts to travel and meetings budgets in recent years,” said Jon Gray, vice president of research and insight, Rockport Analytics, LLC. “Our research found that these across-the-board cancellations offer short-term savings at a much greater long-term cost.”

The study found that cancelling of the 2013 Military Health System Conference, an annual training event for several thousand military medical personnel, ultimately cost the government more than $800,000. Similarly, research showed that NASA’s decision to not attend the 2013 National Space Symposium, an international space exploration and policy event, cost the program international partnerships and jeopardized international programs.

Additional findings from the report include:
•    Spending on government meetings in 2011 was significantly lower than the private sector. Government spent about $173 per delegate, per day, while the private sector spent about $339.
•    Nearly three-quarters of private-sector executives said that having government employees present at meetings added value to their firm because of added knowledge.
•    Almost 90 percent of government supervisors believe government meetings and events benefit citizens. Another 85 percent of government respondents agreed that meetings and events added value to employee training.
•    The savings that result from bringing the public and private sector together is lost when government attendance is canceled, because numerous duplicate meetings must be held at a greater net cost.
•    Government travel for meetings and events had a total economic impact of $24.4 billion in 2011.

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