by Alex Spangler
In November 2016, the AIG held its 20th Anniversary conference in Boston, Massachusetts, with our help – the Local Planning Committee (“LPC”) from the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General.
We spent over a year planning the details of the conference, from registration-desk procedures to the networking event to the order of the agenda. Throughout, our main focus was not only to make the 20th Anniversary conference memorable, but also to ensure that all attendees would leave feeling they learned valuable concepts that they could put into practice in their organizations.
In the spring of 2015, at the onset of planning, First Assistant Inspector General Natalie Monroe assembled the LPC. We work in different divisions and have different roles in the Office. Some of us had previous experience in hospitality or conference planning, while others are founding members of the AIG. We frequently used our expertise in conducting procurements, investigations and audits to prepare for the conference. For instance, we performed procurements to choose the hotel and the site for the networking reception. As investigators, we also did our share of research. In October 2015, for instance, we attended the AIG conference in Detroit, Michigan, to learn best practices and take notes for our own conference. We also thoroughly analyzed previous agendas and forms to prepare ourselves to create new versions from scratch.
To work in the most efficient and effective way, we formed subcommittees to divide the work and report our progress in monthly general meetings. The subcommittees included Speaker Coordination, Food and Beverage Service, and Registration, among others. The roles and duties of each subcommittee changed as the planning progressed, and some subcommittees even merged with others. The skills and tactics necessary to run a successful investigation were often the same as those required to plan an effective conference: developing a clear plan of action; recordkeeping; assigning tasks and following up; creating a goal-oriented team; and setting realistic, but fixed, timeframes and deadlines.
Since it was the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the AIG, we knew that this conference had to be like no other. To commemorate the Anniversary, AIG honored its founding members with an award, which AIG founder and former Massachusetts Inspector General Robert Cerasoli accepted on behalf of all of the founders. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature also presented the AIG with citations acknowledging the strides that the organization and its members have made to improve government over the last two decades.
One of the main attractions of the conference was the inclusion of breakout sessions. To break up the day and allow attendees to customize their experience, we developed breakout sessions. Even though this required much more planning, troubleshooting and manpower than the standard conference day, attendees told us that they enjoyed the training sessions and found them valuable. Some sessions were so popular that they reached the maximum capacity weeks before the conference began. The buzz of excited conversation in the registration area between sessions spoke for itself.
At the conclusion of the conference, after over a year of planning and three days of intensive collaboration and troubleshooting, Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha welcomed us to the stage where, to our great surprise and appreciation, attendees greeted us with a roar of applause and a standing ovation. We are honored to have been part of the AIG’s 20th Anniversary, and we hope to see everyone in Austin next year!