Conference Lodging

» Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

General Services Administrative (GSA) issued conference and conference planning guidelines in 2000.  The policy allows for conference per diem expenses, when approved to be reimbursed under the ‘Conference Lodging Allowance.’   The ‘Conference Lodging Allowance’ is a pre-determined maximum allowance of up to 125 percent increase of the applicable locality lodging ceiling portion of the per diem rate.   It is not an actual expense allowance (AEA).   Conference attendees may be reimbursed the actual lodging amount incurred not to exceed the conference lodging allowance under this reimbursement method.  You must obtain authorization/approval for the conference lodging allowance.

The Conference Lodging Allowance applies only to the lodging portion of the chosen per diem rate, not the Meals and Incidentals expense (M&IE) portion.   Should your conference lodging allowance exceed the 125 percent of the per diem rate, the actual expense allowance may be authorized/approved.

Travelers must deduct the appropriate amounts from their M&IE allowance when meals are part of a registration fee or otherwise paid for by the Government, in conjunction with attendance at conferences or other events while on official travel.   If light refreshments are furnished, no deduction of the M&IE allowance is required.  You must deduct from your per diem any meals provided by your agency.  This includes any meals included in your conference registration fee regardless of who sponsored the meals.  Travelers may be reimbursed for an advanced discounted payment for a conference or training registration fee as soon as the travel to the event is approved and the traveler submits a proper claim for the expenses incurred.  If the traveler is unable to attend the conference which they were reimbursed for an advanced discounted payment of the conference registration fee the traveler will need to seek a refund of the registration fee and repay the agency with any refund received.  If no refund is made, the agency must absorb the advanced payment of the registration fee if the traveler’s failure to attend the event was caused by either an agency decision or reason beyond the employee’s control.  This might include illness or an emergency.   If the fee is nonrefundable and the reason for not attending is not excusable by the agency, the employee will be responsible for repayment to the agency.

If you are responsible for planning a conference you might consider using the “FedRooms

Groups and Meetings” Tool.  The FedRooms for Groups and Meetings provides hotel market research and sourcing for government meeting professionals.  Before you contact any hotels, please complete the online questionnaire with your group and/or meeting requirements.  Requirements should be submitted no less than 30 days prior to the group event and/or meeting.  The tool will review your requirements and transmit the information to FedRooms hotels that can meet your needs.  It collects and evaluates the hotel responses, returning all applicable information to you within days.  All you have to do is complete the aforementioned questionnaire and receive:

  • Results within five business days;
  • Prospective properties with eco-friendly programs;
  • A market-research response sheet provided electronically, which includes a side-by-side comparison of hotel costs and features:  and The FedRooms Guarantee, which ensures all accepted FedRooms rates are at or below federal per diem, and all participating US hotels are FEMA-certified.

Also, when planning a conference you must:

  • Minimize all conference administrative costs, conference attendees’ travel and time costs;
  • Maximize the use of Government-owned or Government provided conference facilities as much as possible;
  • Identify opportunities to reduce costs in selecting a particular conference location and facility (through the availability of lower rates during the off season at a site with seasonal rates); and
  • Develop and establish internal policies to ensure these standards are met.
  • Ensure that the conference planner or designee does not retain for personal use any promotional benefits or materials received from a travel service provider as a result of booking the conference.

When trying to determine which conference expenditures result in the greatest advantage to the Government you must:

  • Assure there is appropriate management oversight of the conference planning process;
  • Always do cost comparisons of the size, scope and location of the proposed conference;
  • Determine if a government facility is available at a cheaper rate than a commercial facility;
  • Consider alternatives to a conference, such as teleconferencing; and maintain written documentation of the alternatives considered and the selection rationale used.

The cost comparison should include a determination of adequacy of lodging rooms at the established per diem rates, overall convenience of the conference location, fees, availability of meeting space, equipment and supplies and commuting or travel distance of most attendees.

By: Deva Wilson

The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.

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