By Meghan McCabe
After reports of excessive spending at a 2012 General Services Administration meeting made headlines across the nation, federal agencies have been required to reduce their travel expenses by 30 percent. As a result of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-12-12 and the policies it created, new restrictions have limited the ability of federal employees to travel to essential meetings and conferences or attend training classes. Testimony submitted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) noted that the travel policy hinders scientific collaborations and interferes with effective agency oversight of federal research programs.
In recent weeks, these regulations have received renewed attention in several media outlets. Lisa Rein, a reporter for the Washington Post, published a story about the negative implications of OMB M-12-12. Her article featured details about government scientists not being allowed to travel to conferences and unable to present their work or collaborate with other researchers. Rein was also a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi show on National Public Radio, where Representative John Mica (R-FL) and Max Stier, president and CEO of Partnership for Public Service, also discussed the negative effects of OMB M-12-12, including lowering employee morale, federal officials experiencing difficulties maintaining their credentials, and the inability of some agencies to interface with the public.
FASEB President Joseph R. Haywood, PhD, will meet with officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the coming weeks to discuss the negative effects of travel regulations on the scientific community.