ShipTech, a major Navy shipbuilding research conference held annually since 1998, has been mothballed for 2013.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) have cancelled the annual conference “due to the uncertainties surrounding government-sponsored events and the unlikelihood of obtaining Office of the Secretary of Defense approval to host the conference,” according to an announcement on the conference.
Office of Naval Research
|Since 1998, ShipTech has provided a forum for defense, government and private shipbuilding to share research on ways to reduce the U.S. Navy’s cost of ship ownership.|
Capt. Doug Marble, ONR assistant chief of naval research, said the decision to cancel the conference followed “a strategic review of our engagement efforts” and was made “in light of Defense and Navy-wide efforts to reduce conference and travel costs.”
How did that effort begin? Blame Vegas.
Reducing Ship Ownership Costs
ShipTech, last held Feb. 14-15 in Orlando, FL, is a forum for the domestic shipbuilding industry, its supplier base, the U.S. Navy Program Offices, and the U.S. Navy-sponsored shipbuilding research programs to exchange information on shipbuilding technical developments.
Many of those developments have involved advances in marine coatings technology, application issues, processes, and surface preparation practices.
The program’s overriding objective is to reduce the Navy's total ownership cost of its ships while enhancing the competitiveness of the domestic shipbuilding industry.
What Happens in Vegas…
The decision to scrap the conference follows a May 11 Office of Management and Budget memo that restricts federal travel and meetings and slashes agency travel budgets by 30 percent below FY 2010 levels for the next four fiscal years.
The memo, from OMB acting director Jeffrey D. Zients, gave agencies 90 days to show the budget office the cuts they planned to meet those targets.
The OMB directive followed new revelations of an $823,000 General Services Administration (GSA) training conference--held in Las Vegas in 2010--that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception. The scandal forced the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson and led to the firing of two top deputies.
Zients cited the GSA scandal and its consequences in his directive. The new travel and meeting guidelines:
• Require Deputy Secretaries to review any conference where the agency spending could exceed $100,000;
• Prohibit agencies from spending more than $500,000 on a conference unless the agency’s Secretary approves a waiver; and
• Require agencies to post publicly each January the prior year’s conference spending, including descriptions of agency conferences that cost more than $100,000.
On the Horizon
ONR hopes to have ShipTech back on board in 2014.
For now, the office’s Naval Science & Technology Partnership Conference/ASNE Expo remains set for Oct. 22 in Arlington, VA.
Said Marble: “ONR, along with its partners, remain committed to reducing total ownership costs of naval ships and enhancing the competitiveness of the domestic shipbuilding industry.”