Information Regarding DOE Conference Approvals and Foreign Travel Arrangements
Posted Sept. 7, 2012
DOE has imposed new DOE conference approval requirements in an effort to minimize travel costs. JLab must now submit event/conference travel information to DOE to obtain their authorization prior to JLab incurring any associated costs on contract funds. The criteria being used by the DOE to develop conference plans for their approval include the following conditions:
- Events where JLab will be hosting a conference of 30 or more individuals at which one half will be on travel status, or;
- Events where JLab will be sending 15 or more individuals to a conference, or;
- Events where net expenditures are expected to exceed $100,000 or more,
- This includes those events within the DOE where the various Labs' participation in the aggregate may exceed this threshold;
- The Secretary of Energy must approve the Department's net expenditure of more than $500,000 on a single conference via a waiver if appropriate conditions are satisfied, and the Deputy Secretary of Energy approves the Department's net expenditure of more than $100,000 and less than $500,000, if appropriate conditions are satisfied;
- This includes those events within the DOE where the various Labs' participation in the aggregate may exceed these thresholds.
As a reminder, a conference is a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel. A conference is generally organized for the purpose of facilitating a discussion or exchange of views on matters related to the mission of DOE. It also includes certain training activities that have specific objectives identified to improve knowledge, skills, or abilities of the attendees. Operational meetings such as peer reviews, program reviews, and construction project reviews are, generally speaking, not considered a conference because they are aimed at evaluation of discrete program projects or initiatives of DOE. Another example of an "operational" function is DOE program officials meeting with DOE contractors concerning particular work under a contract.
DOE is aware that the time required for this additional approval process may impact costs due to the delay in making travel arrangements. The Travel Services Department is implementing steps to help mitigate this delay. Travel Services will now:
- Review all travel authorizations awaiting approval twice daily for disposition.
- Electronically review and approve, hold, or return all pending travel authorizations in order to manage the information needed for the new DOE approval requirements.
- Send to Travelers and Travel Coordinators a timely e-mail notification, once the necessary approvals are obtained, to allow Travelers or Travel Coordinators the opportunity to complete travel arrangements.
Our procedures allow for travel arrangements, to a non-sensitive country, to be made once a Travel Authorization (TA) is processed and approved, provided conference approval is not required as discussed above. When travel is to a sensitive country, travel arrangements cannot be completed until the Traveler and Travel Coordinator are notified by Travel Services Department that foreign travel approval (and conference attendance approval, if applicable,) has been received. Additionally, International Services will notify the traveler and the Travel Coordinator that the required visa to enter a foreign country has been received. A copy of the visa will be attached to the Travel Authorization by Travel Services Department.
As always, foreign travel must be approved and a country clearance must be requested and granted before a JLab traveler can depart on official foreign travel. The travelers will receive an email notification from the Travel Services Department once the following applicable approvals have been received:
1) Department of State - country clearance
2) Department of Energy - foreign travel approval for business purpose
3) Office of Science - conference attendance authorization, when required
4) JSA Visa and Immigration Office - Visa has been received, when required.