May 1, 2006
In Reply Refer To:
1382/1510 (850) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2006-215
Expires:  09/30/2007
To:                   All Washington Office and Field Officials
From:               Assistant Director, Business and Fiscal Resources
Subject:           Policy on Planning for and Travel to Conferences and Meetings
Program Area: Travel and Acquisition
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) transmits Federal and the Department of the Interior (DOI) policy on planning for, and travel to, conferences and meetings, and establishes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) procedures to ensure compliance with these Federal and DOI guidelines.
Policy/Action: The following procedures summarize and supplement the information contained in the attachments to this IM. The policy contained in this IM is mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations and DOI Financial Administration Memorandums.
Obtaining Approval for Conferences
All DOI conferences and meetings involving 30 or more attendees (when a majority of the participants will be in a temporary duty travel status) must be approved by the Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management, or his/her delegate. Internal meetings with up to 50 attendees may be exempt if approved by the Assistant Secretary (see Attachment 1). Conference planning requests must be routed to the Assistant Secretary through your State/Center Director and your Washington Office Program Assistant Director. Conferences that meet the definition of training in 5 CFR 410.404 are not covered by this policy. A conference is considered training if:
  • the announced purpose of the conference is educational or instructional;
  • more than half of the time is scheduled for a planned, organized exchange of information between presenters and audience that meets the definition of training in Section 4101 of Title 5, U.S.C.;
  • the content of the conference is germane to improving individual and/or organization performance; and
  • development benefits will be derived through the employee's attendance.
The DOI Financial Administration Memorandum FAM 2001-011 (Attachment 1), and Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 89 (Attachment 2) contain the DOI and Federal guidance related to planning conferences and meetings.
Conference Lodging Allowance
The Conference Lodging Allowance (CLA) is a predetermined maximum allowance of up to 25 percent greater than the General Services Administration (GSA) lodging allowance for the locality per diem rate. The CLA may be authorized for qualifying conferences by the sponsoring agency(s). A qualifying conference involves 30 or more attendees of which over half are in travel status.
Travelers are approved to use the CLA when any Federal agency that sponsors or co-sponsors a conference has authorized the CLA. The sponsoring agencies will notify all attendees that the CLA has been approved for the conference, either through advertisements or application forms. Attendees must attach the notification to their travel voucher when they submit it to the National Business Center 's Payments Branch, BC-620, for reimbursement.
Travelers attending a conference that is not sponsored by a Federal agency can receive approval for the CLA by their approving official. The traveler must attach a statement signed by the approving official stating that the CLA has been approved for the conference.
Authorizing Conference Travel
All travel to both qualifying Government-sponsored and non-Government conferences must be authorized on a trip-by-trip authorization. If the CLA is authorized, it must be documented on the authorization.
Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) When Attending a Conference
If a meal is furnished by the Government while attending a conference, the appropriate meal deduction must be made from the M&IE according to Chapters 301-74.8 and 74.9 of the Federal Travel Regulations. Light refreshments, complimentary snacks, or continental breakfasts are not deducted from the M&IE.
Light Refreshments at Conferences
Light refreshments may be provided at conferences that have been approved by the Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management. The expense for light refreshments may not exceed 30 percent of the M&IE rate per day per attendee. With very limited exceptions outlined in FAM 2001-011 (see Attachment 1), refreshments are to be provided only to Federal employees when most of the attendees are in travel status.
If the cost of meeting rooms, refreshments, etc., associated with a conference exceed $2,500, then these items will need to be procured by a contracting officer. Contact your contracting officer early on in the planning process to help with making the arrangements. If less than $2,500, meeting room and refreshment costs can be paid for by a non-warranted cardholder who has authority to use the purchase business line of the Government charge card. Documentation for the purchasing/charge card file must include, at a minimum, a copy of the Assistant Secretary's approval to conduct the conference/meeting, a determination that refreshments are prudent, and an attendance log showing the name and duty station of each attendee. Purchases of refreshments that are not supported by the appropriate documentation may result in loss of charge card privileges, repayment of expenses, and potential disciplinary action.
Purchase of Mementos
Appropriations are not available to purchase memento items for distribution to conference attendees as a remembrance of an event. Two notable exceptions to the memento, or gift, prohibitions are covered under training and awards (Acts are referenced above). Work closely with your Human Resources staff when considering using these exceptions.
Timeframe: This IM is effective upon receipt.
Budget Impact: The application of guidance in the IM should have a positive impact on the budget by ensuring that funds are expended only for approved conferences and meetings.
Background: The Federal Travel Regulations Amendment 89 (see Attachment 2) dealing with conference planning was published in the Federal Register on January 10, 2000, with an effective date of January 14, 2001. The General Services Administration issued this guidance to minimize overall Government expenses associated with conferences. The DOI Office of Financial Management issued FAM 2001-011 on July 25, 2001 (see Attachment 1), to implement DOI policy for planning conferences and meetings. This document identifies the requirements for planning conferences and meetings, addresses the authority for serving light refreshments, and provides guidance regarding the attendance of the DOI employees at conferences sponsored by others.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: There are no BLM Manuals or Handbooks affected by this IM.
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with Deputy State Directors for Support Services and State/Center Procurement Analysts.
Contact: If you have any travel-related questions regarding this IM, please call Vickie Smith, BC-620, at 303-236-6276 questions. For assistance with acquisition-related questions, please contact Nancy Adrain, Property and Acquisition and Headquarters Services Group, WO-850, at 202-452-5175.
Signed by:
Authenticated by:
Janine Velasco
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Business and Fiscal Resources
2 Attachments