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.
A Conference is a prearranged scientific, medical, or professional meeting, convention, seminar, or symposium that:
• Is usually held for consultation, education, or discussion of scientific, medical, human services, public health issues, or other related events; • May include attendees who are not all HHS attendees; • Is usually not held at a space that is owned, leased, or shared by HHS; and • May involve attendee travel costs e.g., per diem entitlements.
The Government Accountability Office has stated that a formal conference “typically involves topical maters of interest to, and the participation of, multiple agencies and/or nongovernmental participants.” National Institutes of Health—Food at Government-Sponsored Conferences, B-300826 at page 2 (March 3, 2005). Indicia of a formal conference are registration, a published substantive agenda, and scheduled speakers or discussion panels. See B-300826 at page 6.
The attendance of Federal employees at conferences is reviewed to ensure attendance is necessary and appropriate. The Department has limited the number of attendees to 20 per OPDIV/STAFFDIV, and to 50 for all of HHS for any single conference.
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.