The Association of the United States Army will pay the travel expenses for about 280 Army personnel to attend the association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., officials said Thursday.
The offer from AUSA will cost about $630,000, and it comes after the Oct. 1 government shutdown canceled or suspended most temporary-duty travel.
“AUSA proffered the funds, and the Army was able to accept them in the amount of $630,000,” said George Wright, an Army spokesman.
The Army typically pays for its own TDY costs for the annual meeting, and officials said they couldn’t think of the last time AUSA has picked up the tab.
David Liddle, a spokesman for AUSA, confirmed that the association is helping defray the Army’s costs as the service faces “unique circumstances” with the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration and the ongoing shutdown.
“AUSA was happy to proffer monies at our expense, not taxpayer expense, so that key individuals in the Army could avail themselves of the opportunity to go to the annual meeting,” he said. “This is a one-stop shop for the Army, once a year, to have a conversation about what’s going on with the Army, what’s going on with the soldier, what’s going on with the families, and what’s going on with industry partners. This is the best use of monies that could be allocated.”
The AUSA annual meeting is Oct. 21-23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. Army Secretary John McHugh in early September signed off on uniformed attendance at the conference, and as many as 450 soldiers initially were authorized to travel to the conference.
Since the government shutdown, a number of soldiers, including some who are scheduled to speak at the annual meeting, have expressed to sister publication Army Times uncertainty and confusion about whether they will have the funds to travel to the meeting.
The Army has already spent about $350,000 on the AUSA annual meeting; the money paid for items such as exhibits and office space, Wright said. The $350,000 came from fiscal year 2013 funds, Wright said.
“The Army has long felt that AUSA is an important professional development event at which forums and presentations provide vital updates on Army policies to the field,” he said. “It also provides a venue for recognition of soldier and unit excellence.”