The April 25 news article “House to vote on bill placing limits on conferences” demonstrated, yet again, that politicians overreact to scandals.
Congress has rushed to amend the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. This bill has been worked on for more than a year and was intended to report all federal agencies’ spending online, a great idea. The amendments would cut conference costs across the board by 20 percent and, among other mischief, would limit spending on individual conferences to $500,000, “but an agency could seek outside funding for the meeting from outside sources.”
Cutting all agencies’ conference budgets by 20 percent does nothing to prevent foolish use of the remaining amounts. (And why 20 percent? Why not 13 or 56 percent?) Limiting the spending on any conference to $500,000 is also arbitrary. (Why not $236,000?) But allowing agencies to augment the funding by tapping outside sources seems to defeat the point of moderation. These “outside sources” would likely be parties with direct interests in the agencies’ programs. Creating “partnerships” with corporate sponsors on the normal administrative operations of government is a scandal in the making.
Patrick J. Noone, Lutherville