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The following provides the procedures for authorizing attendance at conferences. This applies to all civilian employees and individuals representing the Department including the Commissioned Corps. These guidelines apply to trips that are to domestic, domestic non-foreign, and international locations.

OMB Memorandum M-12-12 employs, and HHS has adopted, the following definition for a conference from the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR):
“A meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium or event that involves attendee travel. The term “conference” also applies to training activities that are considered to be conferences under 5 CFR 410.404.”

This term is clarified, based on the common dictionary meanings of a conference, seminar and symposium, as follows:

• Conference: “a formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic (such as medicine or business) usually for several days, or a formal meeting in which a small number of people talk about something.”
• Symposium: “a formal meeting at which experts discuss a particular topic”
• Seminar: “a meeting in which you receive information on and training in a particular subject, or a class offered to a small group of students at a college or university.”
Therefore, (1) meetings and events falling within the plain meaning of conference, symposium, and seminar where attendees travel, and (2) training activities that are considered to be conferences under 5 CFR 410.4041, are also considered conferences for the purposes of this policy.

Creating a Conference Travel Authorization in GovTrip

When creating a Travel Authorization for Conference Attendance, all HHS Travelers and Travel Preparers must use a Trip Purpose that begins with “Conference” and then select a conference from the list of available conferences in GovTrip. Travelers and/or Travel Preparers must select the conference that the traveler will be attending and not select a different conference just to complete the travel authorization. If a specific conference is not available, they must contact their Travel Administrator to have the conference loaded into the GovTrip. Please note that GovTrip calculates the number of attendees and will not permit you to process your authorization if the attendance limit has been reached.

The conference must be loaded and available in GovTrip before the Authorization can be approved. Travelers and Travel Preparers may not circumvent this policy by selecting a different Trip Purpose in GovTrip in order to process a Travel Authorization. Failure to follow this policy may result in not being able to attend the conference, not being reimbursed for expenses related to event attendance, and may subject the traveler to additional disciplinary actions.

To view HHS Policy on Conferences and Meeting Space, please click HHS Policy - Conferences and Meeting Space
To see a list of authorized conferences, please download HHS Conferences.