PARIS — Organizers of the 10th Annual GeoInt Symposium, who until the last minute were proceeding with event preparations despite the U.S. government shutdown, on Oct. 8 threw in the towel and postponed.

The symposium, which has become one of the world’s biggest venues for discussing government use of geospatial data, will be rescheduled for next spring using the same Tampa, Fla., convention facility where it had been scheduled to occur Oct. 13-16.

In a letter to GeoInt participants and members of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), Keith J. Masback, the organization’s chief executve, said recent travel restrictions on most U.S. Defense Department personnel made the conference untenable.

The consequences for USGIF and its members are still being assessed, he said.

Here is Masback’s Oct. 8 letter.

Dear GEOINT Symposium Attendees, Exhibitors, and USGIF Members:

As you well know, we are operating under the significant constraints of a government shutdown. Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Pay Our Military Act,” which allowed most Defense Department personnel to return to their jobs alongside the excepted personnel who were still working. However, the act also included language that has made it impossible for personnel to travel (except in direct support of operational forces) or attend events — including the GEOINT 2013 Symposium.

Up until Friday of last week, the Symposium had been poised for success on par with previous years and actually enhanced with the addition of a number of new and exciting elements. Government and military registration, both U.S. and international, was the highest ever, as a percentage of total registration. We are one of the few events this year to fill downtown Tampa nearly to capacity, and the excitement has been palpable, despite the challenges associated with sequestration. 

However, the new legislation, subsequent legal interpretations, and resultant directives have drastically changed the environment.

The USGIF staff has been working diligently in an interactive way during this tumultuous period to determine the best course of action for our members, attendees, and exhibitors. We’ve met with USGIF sustaining members, we’ve talked with our government partners, and heard from exhibitors. 

USGIF is simply unable to commence and maintain the event in its original scope. Given the absence of government speakers from our program and the absence of government customers from our exhibit hall, we have no choice but to postpone the 10th Annual GEOINT Symposium to spring 2014. This is very difficult for everyone involved, and there are many immediate, second- and third-order effects. USGIF, our members, our exhibitors, our attendees, and our many partners in the greater Tampa area community will have to work through the effects imposed by these government decisions and the required postponement of our event.

We regretfully understand this may put our event closer to or overlapping with some other events. Unfortunately, this is the only time in the first half of the year open for the Tampa Convention Center and surrounding hotels. It is also the only financially tenable option for USGIF. In addition to inadvertently impacting the events of peer organizations (which we pledge to work diligently to mitigate), this change will cause a ripple effect on our planned NGA Tech Showcase West (currently scheduled for April) and USGIF’s GEOINT Community Week, including Tech Days and the GEOGala — and we are working on options for those events as well.

We have worked steadily over time to be excellent stewards of the resources which our Community has invested in the Foundation. We will, like many of you, have tough financial decisions to make as we navigate the coming weeks and months. Your ongoing partnership, membership, and support for the programming we provide to the Community remain vital.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We plan to communicate clearly and often, and we are always ready to address your questions.


Keith J. Masback

Chief Executive Officer

United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.