Agency Conferences and Conventions Operating Under Necessary Transparency (ACCOUNT) Act | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Agency Conferences and Conventions Operating Under Necessary Transparency (ACCOUNT) Act

Letters to Officials

May 11, 2012

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative,

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) has introduced H.R. 4454, the Agency Conferences and Conventions Operating Under Necessary Transparency (ACCOUNT) Act. On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to support this legislation.

The recent scandal surrounding the General Services Administration’s wasteful spending on conferences is just one example of wasteful conference spending by government agencies. The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General found that $60,000 was spent in 2005 on cotton candy, popcorn, caramel apples, ice cream, and licorice at a 4-day, DOJ-sponsored conference focused on anti gang initiatives. In 2006, the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service sent 47 people to 10 conferences in Hawaii at a cost of $71,412.

H.R. 4454 would require that any conference costing more than $25,000 be approved in writing by the head of the relevant agency as being essential to the agency’s core mission. The bill would also require that details of the conference, such as a summary of the purpose, total cost, and cost per employee attending, be posted on the related agency’s website within 30 days after the conference. At the end of each calendar year, the head of each agency would be required to submit a report of their conference activities for the previous fiscal year to the corresponding committees of Congress.

Holding government agencies accountable and making their expenses more transparent should be a priority for lawmakers. At a time when the national debt has soared to $15.7 trillion, the federal government simply cannot justify spending millions of dollars on wasteful conferences. It is time for Congress to tighten its belt and begin getting the nation’s fiscal house in order. I strongly urge you to support the ACCOUNT Act. All votes on H.R. 4454 will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2012 Congressional Ratings.

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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