The U.S. Army’s presence at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual convention in Washington will be smaller than in prior years.
As of Sept. 7, when AUSA made the announcement, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had yet to approve a waiver for any Army personnel to travel to the conference, scheduled to begin Oct. 22.
AUSA notified its members and registered show attendees Sept. 7 that the Army would scale back its exhibits to a single space. In prior years, the Army had numerous booths, which included multiple levels, intelligent lighting and multiple movie-screen-sized displays.
“Army participation from the field will be reduced significantly,” Michael Scanlan, AUSA’s director of industry affairs, wrote in a Sept. 7 email to association members.
Still, Scanlan wrote that “high level participation from the Army’s senior leadership” is expected.
Consistent with the downsizing, on Aug. 28 Army Materiel Command canceled a request for proposals to transport the materials and build its booth at the convention. A similar deal for AUSA’s winter 2012 event in January cost the command $429,000.
Federal spending on conferences has been in the spotlight following the General Services Administration conference spending scandal.
In June, Carter instructed each service to review all conferences — DoD or industry — that cost more than $100,000 to attend. That figure includes travel costs and all costs associated with the event, such as airfare, lodging and per diem.
The AUSA show has grown exponentially, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The event is so popular that it was moved from a large hotel to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the U.S. capital’s biggest exhibit venue.
In the past, several Army major commands would have large trade show booths. Last year, the Army’s Tank Automotive Command spent $91,200 for 4,800 square feet for one booth, according to federal contracting data.
Carter also has not approved a waiver for the Air Force Association’s annual convention, which kicks off Sept. 17. A waiver for that show could come as early as next week, a defense official said.
Zachary Fryer-Biggs contributed to this report.