Conference Budget - the Next Big Cut

Conference Budget - the Next Big Cut

It Pays For Scientists to Travel, Former Researcher Argues at U.S. House Hearing

Various government agencies, including science agencies, have had to cut down on travel by employees and the sponsorship of meetings since last May when the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo imposing government-wide restrictions. The memo was a response to a scandal surrounding a 2010 conference organized by the General Services Administration in Las Vegas where attendees were treated to expensive extras, including sushi and artisanal cheese.

Sushi and artisanal cheese? Here is what bailed out Merill Lynch CEO spent money on -

It was revealed on January 22, 2009 that Thain spent $1.22 million of corporate funds in early 2008 to renovate two conference rooms, a reception area, and his office, spending $131,000 for area rugs, $68,000 for an antique credenza, $87,000 for guest chairs, $35,115 for a gold-plated commode on legs, and $1,100 for a wastebasket. Thain subsequently apologized for his lapse in judgment, and reimbursed the company in full for the costs.

Thain accelerated approximately $4 billion in bonus payment to employees at Merrill just prior to the close of the deal with Bank of America. Bank of America was aware of the payment, as allowing the payment to go through was reportedly one of the conditions under the merger agreement. Speculation mounted that some of TARP fund was used for the bonus payment, but TARP recipients are yet to disclose how the funds were segregated, or what they were used for.


From the original article -

The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the science- heavy National Institutes of Health, spent $56.1 million on 140 conferences. NASA spent $2.29 million on 14 conferences.

$56.1 million? Yeeeks. Here is how much John Thain earned from US government for spending only few months at Merrill Lynch -

Upon joining Merrill Lynch, Thain received a $15 million signing bonus. The firm announced that Thain would receive at least $50 million a year and could be paid as much as $120 million a year, based on the company’s stock price. The Associated Press identified Thain, who received $83.1 million, as one of the best paid executives of S&P; 500 companies in 2007. In that year, Thain earned a total compensation of $83,785,021, which included a base salary of $750,000, a cash bonus of $15,000,000, stock grant of $33,013,151, and options grant of $35,017,421.

Written by M. //