The International Ombuds Association announced the dates and locations for its next two annual conferences. The 19th annual conference will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 18-20, 2024; and the 20th annual conference will take place in Miami, Florida, on April 7-9, 2025.
IOA's announcement noted and apologized for the fact that California prohibits state-funded travel to both of these states, which mean dozens of Ombuds in the UC and CSU systems cannot attend. (See Calif ABB 1887, which became effective in 2017.)
Here is the full announcement:
A Message from IOA As a profession committed to fairness, we appreciate hearing from members about holding annual conferences in Indianapolis for IOA2024 and Miami for IOA2025. And as an international organization, IOA is always trying to balance a variety of potentially competing needs that our members may not be aware of. We hope it is helpful to share some information that impacted IOA’s decisions to contract with hotels in Indianapolis and Miami to host our conference as well as information about hotel contracting generally:
- IOA's conference location is determined by a number of factors including what cities are willing to bid on our conference and if we have been to that region in the last five years.
- IOA contracts with hotels at least three years in advance of the conference date. This is generally the minimal amount of advance time required to be able to secure space that is adequate for both hotel meeting and sleeping room needs.
- Both of the contracts for Indianapolis 2024 and Miami 2025 were re-negotiated as part COVID pandemic cancellations in 2021 and 2022, and cannot be canceled without significant cost to IOA.
- We understand that both Indiana and Florida are on the State of California travel ban list for state employees. IOA was unaware of the State of California creating a travel ban list for state employees at the time when Indianapolis and Miami were selected as conference sites. It should be noted there is a permitted exception to this ban to allow for specific training that IOA offers that may help some with funding approval. Therefore, IOA is creating email templates and other information to assist impacted ombuds in their requests should an exception need to be requested.
- There are organizational ombuds practicing in Indiana and Florida as well as the 22 other states named in the ban. While we understand that there are concerns about state policies and practices, we also have a number of ombuds and other participants who practice in those states that would like support.
- We try to host conferences in locations that can be easily traveled to by our international community. Miami is a gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, and also more easily accessible from southern Europe.
- Finally, we have often considered hosting annual conferences in locations outside of the U.S. and have been met with concerns that U.S. members would not be able to travel. Balancing these competing needs is always a challenge.We understand some members are concerned and disappointed. We share this information in an effort to illuminate the complexities of hotel location contracting. Should any location present an issue of physical safety for our members, participants, and staff, we will need to reassess as we get closer to the conference date.