A memo issued last year by the White House Office of Management and Budget mandated reductions in travel spending by 30%. In updated guidelines published last month, the OMB acknowledged that while it is important to eliminate wasteful government spending, bringing federal employees together, particularly at scientific conferences, can be the most efficient and cost-effective means to advance the mission and programmatic goals of governmental agencies.
“Scientific discovery and commercialization are key components of economic growth,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “We applaud the OMB’s new guidelines and also recognize the need for financial responsibility in government travel spending. But the guidelines need to be supported by funding. Without that, we are encouraging the best and the brightest to work in our government labs, and then tying their hands by restricting their access to the latest research findings and trends, state-of-the-art training and relevant contacts ? the necessary catalysts for invention and progress.”
The taxpayer’s full return on investment in R&D is dependent on the interchange among government, industry and academia, Arthurs said, “for the sharing of ideas to stimulate new thinking and to ensure that we’re building on similar work rather than duplicating what is being done in another lab.”
Arthurs stressed that the risks of falling behind in technology development include erosion of homeland- and cyber-security and warfighter-safety capabilities, and losing a leadership edge in global economic competitiveness.
SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organizatio
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