In the wake of the GSA conference “questions,” the DOD has decided that no one gets to have fun until the agendas are reviewed. This reaction highlights the pressures placed on government agencies by media and watchdogs.
DOD and other agencies have historically been very frugal (in my experience) with conference and training budgets. Now they have to take a look (again) at the conferences and travel that could be legitimate needs. Government waste in re-reviewing these items will cost taxpayers millions in potential cancellation costs, man-hours, and lost training/development opportunities (not to mention employee goodwill).
The most recent poll I could find on the matter quickly says that as of August 2011:
Only 17% of Americans had a positive impression of the federal government, compared with 63% who viewed the federal government negatively.
I understand the pressures that this places to cut costs and appear responsible, but potentially someone somewhere didn’t have a good course in cost-benefit analysis. It seems that government agencies may have incorporated more professionals than most with this deficiency. It would be interesting to see what the outcomes are for the re-review and how many are re-approved.