U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) recently introduced the Transparency Requirements for Agency Conferences and Events (TRACE) Act, a bipartisan bill that brings transparency, accountability and fiscal restraint to federal agency conferences.
"This bill addresses the commonsense expectation that taxpayers have of their government: federal employees should not waste taxpayer dollars on extravagant accommodations, unnecessary luxuries, or special perks when hosting or attending a conference," said Rep. Kind. "We need to allow agencies to get the training and information needed to do their jobs effectively, but there has to be some basic oversight to make sure that no money or time is being wasted on pursuits that have nothing to do with the agency's core mission."
The TRACE Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), will increase transparency of agencies by requiring a comprehensive report describing the costs associated with any proposed conference, retreat, seminar or other such event being organized by a federal agency.
The bill requires, 30 days before a conference begins, an itemized statement of the cost of attending or hosting the conference, the names of keynote speakers, a list of conference attendees, the conference location and itinerary, and a summary of the purposes and goals of the event. By requiring that this information be made public, this bill would greatly reduce the overall likelihood of an agency hosting or sending employees to an unnecessary conference that serves no needed civic purpose.
"Like all taxpayers, I've been shocked to hear reports about some of the waste and abuse being perpetrated within certain federal agencies, especially coming at a time when so many Americans are being hurt by sequester cuts," concluded Kind. "As part of the larger effort to rein in federal spending and address our national deficit, this bill will play an important role in bringing accountability and transparency to government."