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1. FEDERAL AGENCIES

Conference spending falls as Congress cracks the whip

Last year, U.S. EPA spent $400,000 to host an annual training program for employees who respond to oil spills and hazardous substance releases, sending 226 employees to Henderson, Nev., to participate in dozens of courses. It was the most expensive of 20 conferences that each cost the agency more than $100,000. In the past, it would have been money spent behind closed doors, but 2012 marked a culture change: The White House began requiring every agency to publicly summarize its most expensive conferences.

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