AERA Joins Science Associations in Efforts to Ensure Government Employees' Ability to Attend Meetings and Conferences
AERA Joins Science Associations in Efforts to Ensure Government Employees' Ability to Attend Meetings and Conferences
 
AERA Joins Science Associations in Efforts to Ensure Government Employees' Ability to Attend Meetings and Conferences
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June 2012

AERA, along with over 50 other associations in science, engineering, and higher education, has signed letters to both houses of Congress protesting recent amendments that could restrict the number of conferences that government employees can attend. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act, H.R. 2146), passed in the House, and the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789), passed in the Senate, both contain provisions stating that “no agency may expend funds on more than a single conference sponsored or organized by an organization during any fiscal year, unless the agency is the primary sponsor and organizer of the conference.” AERA and other scientific societies are concerned that the wording could be interpreted to prevent government employees from attending scientific meetings or conferences any year in which they plan to attend or participate in an event such as the USA Science & Engineering Festival. There is also concern that the language could be interpreted to prevent colleagues within a single government agency from attending different scientific conferences that fall within the same fiscal year.

AERA and its fellow scientific associations acknowledge the provisions’ intent to promote transparency and reduce excess government spending. The cosigners fear, however, that the resulting severe restrictions will negatively affect the dissemination of scientific research and developments. As stated in the letters, the restrictions could thus undermine both the scientific societies’ mandates to advance scientific and technological research and education, and the nation’s goals for national security, public health, science education, innovation, and competitiveness.
 
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