Conference Overview

Updated Guidance on Conference-Related Activities and Spending

Issued – August 17, 2015

Effective Date – October 01, 2015

The Department of Energy launched a comprehensive initiative to improve management of conference-related activities and spending.  As a result, these changes will better enable participation in vital professional conferences, streamline approval processes while still maintaining appropriate controls and ensure cost effectiveness.

Highlights include:

  • Dividing Conferences into
    1. Conferences sponsored by DOE and its Contractors
    2. Conferences sponsored by external entities that DOE and its contractors attend but have no role in funding or promoting
  • Significantly expedite the approval process allowing attendees to take advantage of reduced early registration fees and lower travel costs.

Q1 – What are the difference between DOE-sponsored, contractor-sponsored, and DOE/Contractor-sponsored events?

A1 – See chart below:

Type of Conference Description Contractor Reporting Responsibilities
(1) DOE-sponsored A conference hosted/sponsored by a DOE program office Report all costs in CMT and if DOE aggregate costs >$100k approval needed
(2) Contractor-sponsored A conference hosted/sponsored by a DOE contractor (lab, plant, etc.)
  1. If the host can ensure DOE aggregate costs <$100k do not need to report in the DOE Conference Management Tool
  2. If the host cannot ensure DOE aggregate costs <$100k, report all estimates in the CMT
(3) DOE/contractor-sponsored A conference where monetary support at any level is provided to the conference or a DOE, program, lab, or M&O logo is authorized for use by the conference* Report all costs in CMT and if DOE aggregate costs >$100k approval needed**
(4) Non-DOE-sponsored Conferences hosted by parties outside of DOE for which no monetary support is provided Report and approve conference estimates through local Lab systems

*Does not include support of student and early career participation at a conference up to $10k, also does not include services purchased such as booths and registration fees

**This is because the host (the organization providing monetary support) cannot ensure costs for these types of event will remain below $100k

What is a Conference?

General Definition: “Conference” is defined in the Federal Travel Regulation as, a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel. Conferences subject to this guidance are also often referred to by names other than “conference”. Other common terms used include conventions, expositions, symposiums, seminars, workshops, or exhibitions. They typically involve topical matters of interest to, and the participation of, multiple agencies and/or nongovernmental participations. Indicia of a formal conference often include but are not limited to registration, registration fees, published substantive agenda, and scheduled speakers, or discussion panels. Individual events may qualify as conferences without meeting all of the indicia listed above, but will generally meet some of them.

Local events that do not require advance travel authorization may also qualify as a conference for the purposes of this guidance if the event exhibits other key indications of a conference, especially the payment of registration, exhibitor, sponsorship or conference fee.

Local travel (under 50 miles) is no longer excluded for purposes of determining whether an event is a conference.

Conference Exemptions

What is not a Conference:

  • 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.
  • Fermilab PAC meeting in Aspen, URA visiting Committee, UEC Monthly Meetings
  • Activities associated with “CMS week” have special exemption from the Office of Science and is NOT a conference
  • Operational events that focus on being engaged in actually carrying out the work.

Request to attend either a DOE sponsored Conference or a Non–DOE sponsored Conference:

  • An approved Travel Authorization must be submitted to the Fermilab Travel Office well in advance of any “critical date” of the conference.
  • The “critical date” corresponds to the date when funds need to be committed (i.e. early registration deadline, booth fees deadline, etc.)

Conference Approvals
Approvals are required for both DOE sponsored Conferences and Non–DOE sponsored Conferences.
Fermilab Travel Office will make conference determinations and enter and approve all conference attendance in the Conference Travel Database.
In addition to the services we provide, we ensure that conference reporting activities are consistent and compliant with Fermilab and DOE policies and all applicable federal regulations.

Conference status is posted on the Fermilab Conference Travel Database for your convenience at:
Questions: Contact Beth Dahl,, 630-840-8232

Additional Guidance
To ensure that the Department of Energy’s spending on conference related activities is limited to that which is appropriate, necessary and managed in a manner that minimizes expenses carefully review attendance and cost.

  • Limit attendance to only those necessary
  • Select Federal venue when possible and available
  • Carpool or use public transportation
  • Register early
  • Book travel as soon as approval is obtained from the Travel Office
  • Where possible, carry audiovisual equipment rather than rent
  • Federal Funds should be used solely for the purposes that are appropriate, cost effective and important to the core mission of the Department of Energy

If you plan to host a conference, please contact the Fermilab Conference Office.
If you wish to have Fermilab sponsor a conference or an organization asks you to have Fermilab sponsor a conference, please contact the Fermilab Conference Office. Sponsorship approval must be requested at least six months prior to the conference start date.

Sponsorship of a conference includes monetary support and/or use of the DOE or Fermilab logo. Please note that usage of the logo in any way related to the conference requires DOE approval.

If you have any questions regarding these new guidelines, please contact the Conference Office.