U.S. Geological Survey Manual
U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum
No. OFM 2001-05
Date: September 7, 2001
Subject: Conference Planning Allowance and Refreshments Involving Travel
1. Definition of Conference and Conference Approval Process
2. Conference Lodging Allowance
A conference of 30 or more attendees may justify using the CLA. However, the CLA will not be permitted for a conference sponsored or co-sponsored by DOI and attended by fewer than 30 participants. When DOI is not a co-sponsor and a sponsoring or co-sponsoring Federal agency sponsor has determined that the payment of the CLA is required and prudent, the USGS employees attending the conference may be authorized the CLA. Also, a travel-authorizing official may deem the CLA necessary to defray lodging costs associated with a conference sponsored by a non-Federal source.
The CLA may not exceed 125 percent of the lodging portion of the established General Services Administration (GSA) locality per diem rate and does not provide for an increase in the meals and incidentals (M and IE) allowance. Lodging taxes are not included in the CLA unless the conference is held at a foreign location.
An approval comment must be entered on the travel voucher and signed by the approving official (same procedure as claiming increased per diem) when claiming the CLA.
3. Light Refreshments at Conferences
The Office of Acquisitions and Grants has prepared a 'decision tree' to be used when determining if refreshments can be procured with appropriated funds. The Website is http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/acquisition/h3distnc.html located under Refreshments. (NOTE: this website is internal to the U.S. Geological Survey. If you are unable to view the information from this link please contact the Office of Financial Management at (703) 648-7601 for information.)
As a general rule, Federal agencies are not to provide light refreshments at conferences where there are non-Federal attendees -- unless the cost of providing the refreshments was included in a registration fee that will recover the cost. An exception to this general rule will apply in situations where a small number of non-federal participants are requested to speak, or otherwise actively participate in the conference at the invitation of an employee of DOI. In such instances, when it was determined during the conference planning process that providing light refreshments was prudent -- then all participants can partake.
The maximum amount spent for light refreshments may not exceed 30% of the M and IE rate per day for each attendee at the conference.
The minimum documentation to support furnishing refreshments include:
4. Attendance by DOI Employees at Conferences Sponsored by Others.
The CLA will not be permitted for a conference sponsored or co-sponsored by DOI and attended by fewer than 30 participants. When DOI is not a co-sponsor and a sponsoring or co-sponsoring Federal agency sponsor has determined that the payment of the CLA is required and prudent, the DOI employees attending the conference will be authorized the CLA. In addition, a travel-authorizing official may deem the CLA necessary to defray lodging costs associated with a conference sponsored by a non-Federal source.
5. Authorities and References
The departmental policy (Financial Administration Memorandum (FAM) FAM 2001-011 dated July 25, 2001) is Attachment 1 and is also available at http://www.doi.gov/pfm/fam01-11.html.
Attachment 2 of the referenced FAM contains the GSA's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the topic of conference planning and light refreshments and is also available at http://policyworks.gov/org/main/mt/homepage/mtt/FAQCONFERENCE.html.
The GSA's travel planning guidance is available at http://policyworks.gov/org/main/mt/homepage/mtt/FTR/appndxe.html.
All of the related documents on this subject are posted on the USGS Travel Management Branch website at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/finance/travel.html (NOTE: this website is internal to the U.S. Geological Survey. If you are unable to view the information from this link please contact the Office of Financial Management at (703) 648-7602 for information.)
Questions concerning the information in this IM should be directed to Susan Sheely at email@example.com or (703) 648-7602.
/s/ John J. Blickley, Chief
Office of Financial Management