On June 4, 2010, the DOT Chief Financial Officer (CFO) issued a policy establishing internal control procedures for the planning and approval of all DOT conferences and workshops. The primary objective of this policy was to ensure that all such events are planned and managed in a cost-effective manner, beginning with the establishment of a mission-based need for holding all conferences.
The policy also outlined strict procedures and considerations related to the selection of prudent locations for such events, appropriate use of meals and refreshments, and the use of conference planners. In addition, the policy established a monthly reporting regimen that requires DOT’s operating administrations to follow a rigorous approval protocol for all conferences, including the administrator’s personal approval of all such events. Copies of these approvals are required to be sent to the DOT CFO for further review.
As a follow on to this initiative, the DOT CFO issued supplemental guidance in February of 2012, “Internal Control Procedures and Guidance for Using DOT Funds for Conferences, Workshops, and Related Gatherings.” This policy reinforced and strengthened the internal controls over conference spending. Detailed guidance also outlined considerations such as location selection, cost comparisons, use of video teleconferencing technology (in lieu of travel), and refreshments/meals.
Together, these policies have helped to shape a climate at DOT that has significantly reduced the expenditure of federal funds on such events, especially those costing over $100K.
In FY2013, DOT sponsored only six conferences in excess of $100K, including two safety training conferences that occur only every other year. This represents a significant reduction compared to FY2012, when DOT posted 15 events over $100K. Consistent with OMB Memorandum 12-12, “Promoting Efficient Spending to Promote Agency Operations,” the attached link provides a more detailed disclosure of each of these conferences.