Press Room

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate agreed to Coburn amendment 2060 by a voice vote. This amendment provides a first step in comprehensive conference spending and transparency reform by scaling back overall spending on government-sponsored conferences, establishing attendance limitations to protect from excessive and unnecessary travel, capping the amount that can be spent on a single conference at $500,000, and requiring all conference expenses to be published online.

“Congress has finally said ‘the party’s over’ when it comes to conference spending. We have seen scandal after scandal because Congress has failed to do oversight. The purpose of oversight is to prevent scandals, not respond to scandals. Still, I’m pleased my colleagues took this common sense step to limit conference spending and require greater transparency and accountability. I’m hopeful some version of this amendment will be accepted in the House of Representatives on this bill or another bill in the near future,” Dr. Coburn said.

Additionally, the Senate approved Coburn amendment 2058 by voice vote, amending the Service Standard requirement to encourage the co-location of Post Offices in business. Unfortunately, the Senate rejected Coburn amendment 2061, to require retirement-eligible USPS employees to retire in a vote of 33-65.

The Coburn conference amendment could save at least $65 million every year. It establishes a basic set of requirements for conference spending, including the following:

• Reduces the amount an agency can spend on conferences to 80 percent of the amount spent in 2010.

• Caps amount that can be spent on a single conference at $500,000 (unless the agency is the primary sponsor).

• Allows non-federal foundations and sources to provide financial support for a conference, but requires a listing of such sponsors and a certification that there is no conflict of interest resulting from support received from each.

• Prohibits sponsoring more than one conference per year per organization.

• Limits to 50 the number of employees from a single agency traveling to an international conference.

The amendment also requires a quarterly summary posted on the agency’s website of each conference supported or attended by an agency in the preceding 3 months, including:

• An explanation how the conference advanced the mission of the agency;

• Total cost of attendance and support for the conference;

• Primary sponsor of the conference;

• Location of the conference;

• A justification of the location including cost efficiency of the location;

• The dates; and

• The number and a listing by title of agency and non-federal employees whose attendance at the conference was paid for by the agency.

Additional background on Coburn amendment 2060 is here.

Dr. Coburn’s efforts to bring transparency and accountability to spending on government sponsored conferences over the years here.


Date Title
7/28/14 GAO: 83,000 DOD Employees and Contractors with Security Clearances Owe $730 million in Federal Taxes
7/24/14 Coburn, Carper Introduce Bill to Eliminate Unnecessary and Outdated Reports
7/24/14 Dr. Coburn to Hold Final U.S. Senate Town Hall Meetings in Oklahoma
7/22/14 Fake Applications for ObamaCare Tax Subsidies Show How Vulnerable Health Care Law is to Fraud & Abuse
7/10/14 U.S. Awards $190 Million Contract to Firm Accused of Fraud
7/7/14 New IG Report Finds Inconsistencies With Health Exchange Applications
Date Title
6/30/14 Dr. Coburn’s Statement on Hobby Lobby Ruling
6/24/14 Beyond the Waiting Lists, New Senate Report Reveals a Culture of Crime, Cover-Up and Coercion within the VA
6/14/14 U.S. Senator Tom Coburn Delivers Weekly Republican Address
6/13/14 Senators Press Defense Department to End “Plugging” Numbers
6/3/14 Senators Coburn, Burr, McCain, and Flake introduce the Veterans Choice Act
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5/30/14 Dr. Coburn’s Statement on Resignation of Sec. Shinseki
5/30/14 Share Your Experience with Veterans Affairs Health Care
5/27/14 Hatch, McConnell and Coburn Question Accuracy of Obamacare Subsidies
5/21/14 Coburn, McCaskill Introduce Bill to Remove Idle Earmarks within Department of Transportation
5/7/14 Dr. Coburn Launches Probe of Sequestration’s Impact
5/2/14 Senate Doctors Introduce the SCOPE Act to Limit Power of Secretary of HHS
5/1/14 Senators Coburn and Udall Circulate Bipartisan Letter in Support of Earmark Ban
Date Title
4/28/14 Coburn Statement on Passage of DATA Act
4/8/14 Dr. Coburn’s Statement on New GAO Duplication Report
4/3/14 Bipartisan Group Introduces Bill to Stop the Government from Selling Reports Available Online for Free
Date Title
3/14/14 Udall, Coburn Welcome Support for Proposal to End Unemployment Benefits for Millionaires as Part of Extension of Long-Term Jobless Benefits
3/13/14 Senators Introduce Bill to Stabilize Funding for Patent and Trademark Office
3/13/14 Senate Says No to Childcare Handouts For Millionaires
3/12/14 Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill Requiring Bureaucracy to Disclose Programs