Products & Services
DoD Conference Policies and Controls
The Department of Defense has always taken its duty to be an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars very seriously. Through the continued implementation of the Secretary’s Efficiencies Initiative and President Obama’s Campaign to Cut Waste, DoD has focused on reducing costs and ensuring that policies and controls are in place to prevent waste, duplication, or abuse, with specific attention paid to spending associated with conferences.
Through the implementation of the Office of Management and Budget’s May 11, 2012 memorandum, “Promoting Efficient Spending to Support Agency Operations,” DoD has further increased scrutiny of conference spending and elevated approval authority for conference hosting and attendance. Implementation guidance was provided by the Deputy Secretary of Defense on September 29, 2012. The Department has made important progress in centralizing its oversight of conference spending within each of its Components and is significantly reducing conference spending due to these new oversight procedures and the challenges of the current fiscal environment. Reductions and further cost-savings are continuing during Fiscal Year 2013.
Aggressive cost saving measures have included cancelling conferences, combining previously separate conferences to reduce the need for travel, reducing the number of DoD attendees at certain conferences, eliminating non-mission critical events at conferences, and modifying certain contracts to ensure best value to the government, among others. For example:
In addition, the Deputy Secretary of Defense authorized DoD components in January 2013 to further curtail spending on travel, training, and conferences, in light of the overall budget uncertainty faced by the Department. This is one of the various actions the DoD components are currently taking to help mitigate budget execution risks as the Department operates under a continuing resolution and as the possibility of sequestration remains.
Conferences can and do serve many important purposes. For example, conferences often serve as training, professional development and continuing education opportunities allowing employees to become better and more effective at their jobs as well as achieve and maintain professional accreditations. In many cases, conferences prove to be extremely cost effective ways to deliver these types of training opportunities to large numbers of people. Conferences also prove to be extremely effective venues for collaboration between the Department and industry and/or foreign nationals – strengthening our ability to effectively execute our mission.
As we continue to implement OMB’s guidance, we will do so in a responsible way that guarantees the best use of taxpayer funds while also ensuring that we retain the benefits of conferences that enable our mission through the appropriate development of our workforce, the exchange of important information and best practices with industry, etc. We have also focused on utilizing other options to conferences such as video-conferencing and more fully implementing “local-first” and “government facility-first” policies.
Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Conference Report
In accordance with OMB’s May 11, 2012 memorandum, the Department of Defense is publically reporting on the conferences that it hosted during Fiscal Year 2012 where the total cost for the conference exceeded $100,000. A full listing of these conferences, with supporting details, can be found below. Additionally, approval memoranda for conferences with a total cost in excess of $500,000 that were approved after May 11, 2012 are included below.
In sum, the Department of Defense hosted 295 conferences during Fiscal Year 2012 where the total cost for the conference exceeded $100,000. The total cost of these conferences was approximately $89 million. The Department of Defense is one of the largest, most complex, and most geographically dispersed organizations in the world. With more than three million civilian employees and active, guard, and reserve service members and a total budget in Fiscal Year 2012 of $655.9 billion, DoD’s conference spending equals about $30 per person and approximately one hundredth of one percent of our total spending, amounts similar to other federal agencies.