Part 301-74-Conference Planning

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707.

Subpart A-Agency Responsibilities

Note to subpart A:Use of pronouns "we", "you", and their variants throughout this part refers to the agency.

§301-74.1 What policies must we follow in planning a conference?

When planning a conference, you must:

  1. Minimize all conference costs, including administrative costs, conference attendees' travel costs, and conference attendees' time costs;

  2. Maximize the use of Government-owned or Government provided conference facilities as much as possible;

  3. Identify opportunities to reduce costs in selecting a particular conference location and facility (e.g., through the availability of lower rates during the off-season at a site with seasonal rates); and

  4. Ensure that the conference planner or designee does not retain for personal use any promotional benefits or materials received from a travel service provider as a result of booking the conference (see §§301-53.2 and 301-53.3 of this chapter); and

  5. Develop and establish internal policies to ensure these standards are met.

§301-74.2 What costs should be considered when planning a conference?

When planning a conference, you should consider all direct and indirect conference costs paid by the Government, whether paid directly by agencies or reimbursed by agencies to travelers or others associated with the conference. Some examples of such costs are:

  1. Authorized travel and per diem expenses;

  2. Hire of rooms for official business;

  3. Audiovisual and other equipment usage;

  4. Computer and telephone access fees;

  5. Light refreshments;

  6. Printing;

  7. Registration fees;

  8. Ground transportation; and

  9. Employees' time at the conference and on en route travel.

§301-74.3 What must we do to determine which conference expenditures result in the greatest advantage to the Government?

To determine conference expenditures, you must:

  1. Assure there is appropriate management oversight of the conference planning process;

  2. Always do cost comparisons of the size, scope, and location of the proposed conference;

  3. Determine if a Government facility is available at a cheaper rate than a commercial facility;

  4. Consider alternatives to a conference, e.g., teleconferencing; and

  5. Maintain written documentation of the alternatives considered and the selection rationale used.

§301-74.4 What should cost comparisons include?

Cost comparisons should include, but not be limited to, a determination of adequacy of lodging rooms at the established per diem rates, overall convenience of the conference location, fees, availability of meeting space, equipment, and supplies, and commuting or travel distance of attendees. (See appendix E to this chapter, Suggested Guidance for Conference Planning.)

§301-74.5 How should we select a location and a facility?

Site selection is a final decision as to where to hold your conference. The term "site" refers to both the geographical location and the specific facility(ies) selected. In determining the best site in the interest of the Government, you should exercise strict fiscal responsibility to minimize costs. The actions in §301-74.3 must be followed. Cost comparisons must cover factors such as those listed in §301-74.4. As part of the cost comparison, you must use the established per diem rate for the locations for which you are comparing costs.

§301-74.6 What can we do if we cannot find an appropriate conference facility at the chosen locality per diem rate?

While it is always desirable to obtain lodging facilities within the established lodging portion of the per diem rate for the chosen locality, it may not always be possible. In those instances when lodging is not available at the applicable per diem rate, travelers should construct a cost comparison of all associated costs, including round-trip ground transportation, between finding lodging at the applicable per diem rate away from the conference locality and using the actual expense method at the conference locality as prescribed in Subpart D of Part 301-11 of this chapter.

§301-74.7 May we provide light refreshments at an official conference?

Yes. Agencies sponsoring a conference may provide light refreshments to agency employees attending an official conference. Light refreshments for morning, afternoon or evening breaks are defined to include, but not be limited to, coffee, tea, milk, juice, soft drinks, donuts, bagels, fruit, pretzels, cookies, chips, or muffins.

§301-74.8 May we include conference administrative costs in an employee's per diem allowance payment for attendance at a conference?

No. Per diem is intended only to reimburse the attendee's subsistence expenses. You must pay conference registration fees separately, either directly or by reimbursing employees who pay such expenses and submit travel claims.

§301-74.9 Are there any special requirements for sponsoring or funding a conference at a hotel, motel or other place of public accommodation?

Yes. When you sponsor or fund (see 15 U.S.C. 2225a), in whole or in part, a conference at a place of public accommodation in the United States, you must use an approved accommodation (see §300-3.1 of this title), except as provided in §301-74.10. This provision also applies to the government of the District of Columbia when it expends Federal funds for a conference and any non-Federal entity which uses Government funds to sponsor or fund a conference.

§301-74.10 May we waive the requirement in §301-74.9?

Yes, if the head of your agency makes a written determination on an individual case basis that waiver of the requirement to use approved accommodations is necessary in the public interest for a particular event. Your agency head may delegate this waiver authority to a senior agency official or employee who is given waiver authority with respect to all conferences sponsored or funded, in whole or in part, by your agency.

§301-74.11 What must be included in any advertisement or application form relating to conference attendance?

Any advertisement or application for attendance at a conference described in §301-74.9 must include notice of the prohibition against using a non-FEMA approved place of public accommodation for conferences. In addition, any executive agency, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105, shall notify all non-Federal entities to which it provides Federal funds of this prohibition.

§301-74.12 What special rules apply when a conference is held in the District of Columbia?

In addition to the general rules provided in this part, the following special rules apply:

  1. You may not directly procure lodging facilities in the District of Columbia without specific authorization and appropriation from Congress (see 40 U.S.C. 34); and

  2. It is no longer mandatory that you contact GSA for meeting or conference facilities in the District of Columbia. However, you are encouraged to contact the GSA Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the National Capital Region to inquire about the availability of short-term conference and meeting facilities in the District of Columbia. For additional information see the Customer Desk Guide for Real Property Management, Chapter 1. The Customer Desk Guide can be found on the worldwide web at

Note to §301-74.12(a):This provision does not prohibit payment of per diem to an employee authorized to obtain lodging in the District of Columbia while performing official business travel.

§301-74.13 What policies and procedures must we establish to govern the selection of conference attendees?

You must establish policies that reduce the overall cost of conference attendance. The policies and procedures must:

  1. Limit your agency's representation to the minimum number of attendees determined by a senior official necessary to accomplish your agency's mission; and

  2. Provide for the consideration of travel expenses when selecting attendees.

§301-74.14 What records must we maintain to document the selection of a conference site?

For each conference you sponsor or fund, in whole or in part for 30 or more attendees, you must maintain a record of the cost of each alternative conference site considered. You must consider at least three sites. You must make these records available for inspection by your Office of the Inspector General or other interested parties.

Subpart B-Conference Attendees

Note to subpart B:Use of pronouns "we", "you", and their variants throughout this part refers to the agency.

§301-74.21 What is the applicable M&IE rate when meals or light refreshments are furnished by the Government or are included in the registration fee?

When meals or light refreshments are furnished by the Government or are included in the registration fee the applicable M&IE will be calculated as follows:

  1. If meals are furnished the appropriate deduction from the M&IE rate must be made (see §301-11.18 of this chapter).

  2. If light refreshments are furnished, no deduction of the M&IE allowance is required.

§301-74.22 When should actual expense reimbursement be authorized for conference attendees?

You may authorize actual expenses under §301-11.300 of this chapter when the applicable lodging rate is inadequate.

§301-74.23 May we reimburse travelers for an advanced payment of a conference or training registration fee?

Yes, you may reimburse travelers for an advanced discounted payment for a conference or training registration fee as soon as you have approved their travel to that event, and they submit a proper claim for the expenses incurred.

§301-74.24 What is the traveler required to do if he/she is unable to attend an event for which they were reimbursed for an advanced discounted payment of a conference or training registration fee?

In all cases where a traveler is unable to attend an event for which a discounted registration fee was paid and reimbursed in advance of the event, the traveler must seek a refund of the registration fee and repay the agency with any refund received. If no refund is made, the agency must absorb the advanced payment if the traveler's failure to attend the event was caused either by an agency decision or for reasons beyond the employee's control that are acceptable to the agency, e.g., unforeseen illness or emergency. If no refund is made, and the traveler's failure to attend the scheduled event is due to reasons deemed unexcusable by the agency, the traveler must repay the agency for the amount advanced.

Last Reviewed: 2020-01-10