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Inspection Report: DOE/IG-0913

June 3, 2014

Conference Management at Selected Department Sites

In support of its diverse science, energy and national security missions, the Department of Energy (Department) sponsors and/or funds attendance of both Federal and contractor employees at a variety of conferences and meetings. In response to Office of Management and Budget direction, the Department issued a memorandum, Updated Guidance on Conference-Related Activities and Spending, establishing stringent conference reporting and approval processes.

We found that while the Department had strengthened conference reporting and approval controls, opportunities exist to improve the management process in this important area. Specifically, we found that Program Offices inconsistently applied the event exemption criteria, data was entered either inaccurately or was incomplete and Program officials failed to properly report food costs. However, the allegations received by the Office of Inspector General related to Conference Management were not substantiated.

The issues we identified with conference management occurred, at least in part, because management did not ensure those charged with reporting or making conference-related decisions adhered to or properly interpreted established requirements. Of particular concern, we found that responsible personnel had not been adequately trained to appropriately apply established event exemptions and to correctly enter required information into the Conference Management Tool. Despite positive actions taken, additional effort is necessary to improve transparency and assure that Government funds are being spent appropriately, efficiently and in the best interest of the taxpayer.

Topic: Management & Administration