bigger and better every time. We were within the legal bounds of government procurement and spending, but it was like, “Okay, what are you going to do next time?” So there is this pressure to be kind of the best planner out there and to pull off the biggest event. I think it would be a real challenge
to a planner to say, “I would love to do that for you, but it is against procure- ment regulations,” ... and have a boss say, “Well, figure out a way to do it any- way.” And it seemed that that was the attitude at GSA — figure out how to do this anyway.
What do you think will happen legislatively? There are a lot of bills out there, but I am not aware of any having been passed. I have been hearing speculation from the DOJ about that, and guidance is coming down from DOJ absent any laws passed by Congress, about [how] the whole meeting cannot be any more than $500,000, etc. So Congress may be trying to strengthen rules and regulations, but I believe this is going to be an individual regulatory mission by the departments themselves. There may be some laws
coming from Congress, … but I think the agencies — I am speaking for the DOJ — are trying to get their ducks in a row to be in compliance. You only have to tweak the rules if laws come down.
Do you think that the people who are planning government meetings and are making the decisions that we are reading about in the headlines are generally well prepared to do so? I would say some, maybe. I would think that a lot are not. I would think that some of them are young secretaries [to whom] their bosses say, “Hey, I want to have a board meeting. Get me a meeting room, get me coffee and muffins.” And they do not know the rules and regula- tions. And so they are calling around to find a meeting room. Without the exper- tise, a function itself could be done, but there are so many rules that surround it, [meeting planners] need guidance.
Do you think this will make the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation more valuable? I do. And I have seen on job announce- ments that the CGMP is preferred. So that is becoming something that the
‘There are plenty of rules and regulations out there — we do not need more. We need more scrutiny and we need more current review.’
industry has obviously recognized and is asking for — that people be certified.
Do you think planning government meetings will continue to be satisfying? Yes, I do. I think this is going to — not blow over, because I think blowing over would have meant there was no blowback, and I think there is going to be a lot. But I think that it will all die down and we will be doing business, just maybe not in the same way that we had been.
. —Barbara Palmer
Exhibitions: The Next Two Years
Among attendees and exhibitors at the top 250 business-to-business trade shows in the United States: