The SC12 exhibit floor is going to look a lot different this year as a result of new Department of Energy travel restrictions. The SC12 committee has confirmed that four DoE organizations have already cancelled their booth requests: Brookhaven, Los Alamos, NNSA, and Sandia. And while all four organizations plan to send personnel to Salt Lake in November, this is certainly a setback for the conference.
As reported here, the new DoE restrictions come in the wake of the GSA travel scandal that had lawmakers in an uproar this past Spring. The new policies severely limit conference spending and the number of DoE staffers allowed to travel to any given show.
One official we talked to described the changes as an overreaction: “the type of response one would expect from government, especially in an election year.” But this is just the beginning. A proposed bill that would severely limit travel, called the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 is now making its way through Congress. And while the overall fallout of the GSA scandal continues to unfold, the industry reaction to these changes has been swift; a number of trade shows focused on the federal space have already been cancelled this year.
As for what will happen with the other DoE booths at SC12, the jury is still out.
While there is uncertainty stemming from new restrictions on federal government participation in conferences, DOE has not yet made a decision on how those rules will affect the labs and their attendance at SC12,” said Ian MacConnell, SC12 Communications Co-Chair. “We have made contingency plans, but are waiting on decision before moving forward.”
The HPC community has been abuzz with rumors that other federal agencies such as NASA and DoD will be pulling back on travel as well. According to MacConnell, no official word has come down to that effect and SC12 show management anticipates continued participation by those organizations.
So the question remains; what will happen this year at SC12? According to MacConnell, the conference is looking stronger than ever, with a record number of papers accepted this year. “The committee is focusing our efforts on SC12 and are looking forward to a vibrant conference with a great technical program,” he said.
In what may be a silver lining to this story, insideHPC knows of several vendors who are interested in purchasing the SC12 exhibit space being vacated by the labs. Like they say, The show must go on.