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There's Always the Bus

As part of an effort to scale back costs and be more efficient, the Obama administration has imposed limits on how much money US federal agencies may spend on conferences, but some scientific organizations are concerned that such a move will impede participation in scientific conferences, The New York Times reports.

A memo written in May from the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget calls for agencies to decrease travel spending by 30 percent and sets a cap for what an agency may spend on a single conference. This, a spokesperson tells the Times, will save $1.2 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.

However, in a letter sent to lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate as well as the budget and science offices in September, representatives from a number of science and technology societies and organizations asked that "recognized scientific, technical and educational meetings" and "meetings of national and international standards bodies" be exempt from the policy, the Times says. The budget office spokesperson says it has not received the letter.

"Participation in scientific conferences is a critical opportunity for scientists and engineers to keep current in rapidly changing fields of science and technology," the letter adds. "These conferences facilitate communication among scientists, engineers, practitioners and students. They provide an important venue for presenting cutting-edge research."

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