Computing Research Policy Blog

The Computing Research Association (or CRA) has been involved in shaping public policy of relevance to computing research for more than two decades. More recently the CRA Government Affairs program has enhanced its efforts to help the members of the computing research community contribute to the public debate knowledgeably and effectively.

New York Times Covers Restrictions on Federal Employees Attending Scientific Conferences in Computing

This post marks the first from CRA’s new communications specialist, Shar Steed. Shar will be a frequent contributor to the Computing Research Policy blog and is the new force behind CRA’s communications efforts. Shar joins us from the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows program where she handled communications and marketing duties, and can be reached at

Last month CRA joined ACM, SIAM and IEEE, to send a letter to Congress and federal policymakers to bring attention to how proposed restrictions on federal employees attending scientific conferences would negatively effect scientific collaborations.

The letter encouraged policymakers to designate scientific, technical and education meetings as exempt from the federal policy on conference spending. It is crucial for scientists and engineers working in the government to attend these meeting to interact with other professionals and stay current in their fields.

The combined efforts have not gone unnoticed. On Tuesday, an article in the science section of the New York Times, brought further attention to this critical issue.

The article detailed how the policy is currently affecting the computing community. For example, the number of Department of Energy employees attending the 2012 Supercomputing Conference, which takes place next month, has decreased 30 percent compared to last year. Additionally, this year none of the department’s 12 labs will have booths in the exhibit hall where they have traditionally used the opportunity to demonstrate their latest projects.

Several scientific associations have also expressed concerns on the policy, which has already been passed in the House of Representatives. Increased public exposure to the issue is essential to discourage the Senate from passing it as well.


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New York Times Covers Restrictions on Federal Employees Attending Scientific Conferences in Computing