I read an interesting post from That Credit Union Blog yesterday, in which author Rob Rutkowski shed a tear or two for NCUA examiners who were doomed to attend a conference with no free meals or drinks. Not becaus of anything they did, mind you - most of the blame goes to the GSA, who spent $800,000 on an extravagent Vegas that outraged the public and the President, too.
Rutkowski, from his post:
...Canceling a reception does not help moral...Look, NCUA has to compete with private employers to recruit bright and honest people. Are there perks in being an employee of the federal government? Sure, good benefits, nice holidays, what have you, but in Washington D.C. private industry pays more and NCUA has to compete with that. Having a modest reception for hardworking employees in any industry is a good idea.
A short time later, Aite's Ron Shevlin (of the Snarketing 2.0 Blog) offered his colorful reply:
This is the political reality of the times, Rob. The GSA is part of a government whose President calls for “shared sacrifice.” Spending $800k on an event isn’t shared sacrifice, and it should come as no surprise that political opponents would make hay out of this.
I have to believe that Ron's onto something when he talks about the political blowback of another raging party scene. I'm sure that after the GSA had its fun, a big, bad envelope showed up on the desk of every director in every branch of government with a very simple message:
"Don't even THINK about doing this."
What's the happy medium? How can government agencies give employees a good conference experience and a reason to continue their employment without blowing nearly a million dollars on swag?
I want to hear your thoughts - leave your comments below.