While US Government travel budget cuts have been welcomed by some in the US Congress as a sign that “we are all pulling together” in these financially stringent times, and as evidence that recent expense abuse scandals are on the wane, such cutbacks have, however, had an ill-considered knock on effect on scientic research and especially conference attendance.
For example, the American Astronautical Society announced that it had been forced to cancel its November conference in Pasadena, California, citing that it could not get enough NASA speakers due to the travel cuts, The SpaceRef website notes that the cutbacks are affecting other scientific conferences involving government employees citing a recent American Meteorological Society conference which lost 100 out of 130 NOAA attendees at very short notice.
The effect was also apparent at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, Italy, which had several NASA speakers having to make excuse for the fact that the paper they were presenting was not actually written by them.
Ah well – it can only be a matter of time before NASA sends its security guards or cleaning ladies to present its papers. No doubt they can make do with a much lesser class of hotel in conferences aboard, and get there by paddle steamer as well.