Text: S.1347 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Reported to Senate (10/01/2014)

Calendar No. 582

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 1347

[Report No. 113–268]


To provide transparency, accountability, and limitations of Government sponsored conferences.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 23, 2013

Mr. Coburn (for himself, Mr. McCain, Mr. Chiesa, Mr. Enzi, and Ms. Ayotte) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

October 1, 2014

Reported, under authority of the order of the Senate of September 18, 2014, by Mr. Carper, with an amendment

[Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic]


A BILL

To provide transparency, accountability, and limitations of Government sponsored conferences.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Conference Accountability Act of 2013”.

SEC. 2. Government sponsored conferences.

(a) Travel expenses of Federal agencies relating to conferences.—

(1) LIMITATIONS AND REPORTS ON TRAVEL EXPENSES TO CONFERENCES.—Chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

§ 5712. Limitations and reports on travel expenses to conferences

“(a) In this section, the term—

“(1) ‘conference’ means a meeting that—

“(A) is held for consultation, education, or discussion;

“(B) is not held entirely at an agency facility;

“(C) involves costs associated with travel and lodging for some participants; and

“(D) is sponsored by 1 or more agencies, 1 or more organizations that are not agencies, or a combination of such agencies or organizations; and

“(2) ‘international conference’ means a conference attended by representatives of—

“(A) the United States Government; and

“(B) any foreign government, international organization, or foreign nongovernmental organization.

“(b) No agency may pay the travel expenses for more than 50 employees of that agency who are stationed in the United States, for any international conference occurring outside the United States, unless the Secretary of State submits to Congress before the conference a written certification that attendance for such employees is in the national interest.

“(c) Not later than 30 days after the end of each quarter of each fiscal year, each agency shall post on the public Internet website of that agency a report on each conference for which the agency paid travel expenses during the preceding 3 months that includes—

“(1) the itemized expenses paid by the agency, including travel expenses, the cost of scouting for and selecting the location of the conference, and any agency expenditures to otherwise support the conference;

“(2) the primary sponsor of the conference;

“(3) the location of the conference;

“(4) in the case of a conference for which that agency was the primary sponsor, a statement that—

“(A) justifies the location selected;

“(B) demonstrates the cost efficiency of the location; and

“(C) provides a cost benefit analysis of holding a conference rather than conducting a teleconference;

“(5) the date of the conference;

“(6) an explanation how the conference advanced the mission of the agency;

“(7) the title and pay grade of any Federal employee or any individual who is not a Federal employee whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency; and

“(8) the total number of individuals whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency.

“(d) Each report posted on the public Internet website under subsection (c) shall—

“(1) be in a searchable electronic format; and

“(2) remain on that website for at least 5 years after the date of posting.”.

(2) TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5711 the following:


“5712. Limitations and reports on travel expenses to conferences.”.

(b) Limitations on annual travel expenses.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—In the case of each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018, an agency (as defined under section 5701(1) of title 5, United States Code) may not make, or obligate to make, expenditures for travel expenses, in an aggregate amount greater than 80 percent of the aggregate amount of such expenses for fiscal year 2010.

(2) IDENTIFICATION OF TRAVEL EXPENSES.—Not later than September 1, 2013, and after consultation with the Administrator of General Services and the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall establish guidelines for the determination of what expenses constitute travel expenses for purposes of this subsection. The guidelines shall identify specific expenses, and classes of expenses, that are to be treated as travel expenses.

(c) Conference transparency and limitations.—

(1) DEFINITIONS.—In this subsection—

(A) the term “agency” has the meaning given under section 5701(1) of title 5, United States Code; and

(B) the term “conference” has the meaning given under section 5712(a)(1) of title 5, United States Code (as added by subsection (a)).

(2) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF CONFERENCE MATERIALS.—Each agency shall post on the public Internet website of that agency detailed information on any presentation made by any employee of that agency at a conference, including—

(A) any minutes relating to the presentation;

(B) any speech delivered;

(C) any visual exhibit, including photographs or slides;

(D) any video, digital, or audio recordings of the conference; and

(E) information regarding any financial support or other assistance from a foundation or other non-Federal source used to pay or defray the costs of the conference, which shall include a certification by the head of the agency that there is no conflict of interest resulting from the support received from each such source.

(3) LIMITATION ON AMOUNT EXPENDED ON A CONFERENCE.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—No agency may expend more than $500,000 to support a single conference.

(B) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to preclude an agency from receiving financial support or other assistance from a foundation or other non-Federal source to pay or defray the costs of a conference the total cost of which exceeds $500,000.

(4) LIMITATION ON THE ANNUAL NUMBER OF CONFERENCES AN AGENCY MAY SUPPORT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—An agency may expend funds on not more than 1 conference that is sponsored or organized by a particular organization during any fiscal year, unless the agency is the primary sponsor and organizer of the conference.

(B) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to preclude an agency from paying travel expenses for an employee of that agency to attend a conference.

(5) LIMITATION ON CONFERENCE POLICIES.—An agency may not establish or implement a policy that discourages or prohibits the selection of a location for travel, an event, a meeting, or a conference because the location is perceived to be a resort or vacation destination.

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Conference Accountability Act of 2014”.

SEC. 2. Definitions.

In this Act—

(1) the term “agency” has the meaning given that term under section 5701(1) of title 5, United States Code; and

(2) the term “conference” means a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel.

SEC. 3. Government sponsored conferences.

(a) Expenses of Federal agencies relating to conferences.—

(1) LIMITATIONS AND REPORTS ON CONFERENCE EXPENSES.—Subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

§ 5712. Limitations and reports on conference expenses

“(a) In this section, the term ‘conference’ means a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel.

“(b) No agency may pay the travel expenses for more than 50 employees of that agency who are stationed in the United States, for any conference occurring outside the United States, unless the Deputy Secretary (or the equivalent) and the Chief Financial Officer of the agency submit to Congress before the conference a written certification that attendance for such employees is in the national interest.

“(c) Not later than 30 days after the end of each quarter of each fiscal year, each agency shall post on the public Internet website of the agency a report on each conference that was held during the preceding 3 months for which the agency expended more than $50,000 that includes—

“(1) the itemized expenses paid by the agency, including travel expenses, the cost of scouting for and selecting the location of the conference, and any agency expenditures to otherwise support the conference;

“(2) the primary sponsor of the conference;

“(3) the location of the conference;

“(4) in the case of a conference for which the agency was the primary sponsor, a statement that—

“(A) justifies the location selected;

“(B) demonstrates the cost efficiency of the location; and

“(C) provides a cost benefit analysis of holding a conference rather than conducting a teleconference, video conference, video training, or other means of remote communication;

“(5) the dates of the conference;

“(6) an explanation of how the conference advanced the mission of the agency;

“(7) the pay grade of any Federal employee or any individual who is not a Federal employee whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency;

“(8) the total number of individuals whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency;

“(9) detailed information on any presentation made by a Federal employee at the conference, including any speech, visual exhibit, photograph, slide, or video, digital, or audio recording; and

“(10) information regarding any financial support or other assistance from a foundation or other non-Federal source used to pay or defray the costs of the conference, which shall include a certification that there is no conflict of interest resulting from the support received from each such source.

“(d) Each report posted on the public Internet website under subsection (c)—

“(1) shall—

“(A) be in a searchable electronic format; and

“(B) remain on the website for not less than 5 years after the date of posting; and

“(2) shall not include—

“(A) information regarding travel or conference expenses involving military combat, the training or deployment of members of the Armed Forces, or other similar expenses, as determined by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in consultation with the Administrator of General Services; or

“(B) scientific or medical research presented by a Federal employee at a conference that was previously unpublished.

“(e) The head of an agency may exclude certain information, expenses, and materials from a report required under subsection (c) only if the head of the agency determines that the inclusion of such information would undermine national security, international diplomacy, health and safety inspections, law enforcement, or site visits required for oversight or investigatory purposes.”.

(2) TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5711 the following:


“5712. Limitations and reports on conference expenses.”.


(b) Conference limitations.—

(1) LIMITATION ON AMOUNT EXPENDED ON A CONFERENCE.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—No agency may expend more than $500,000 to support a single conference, unless the head of the agency and the Chief Financial Officer of the agency submit to Congress before the conference a written certification that the conference is in the national interest, which shall include—

(i) an estimate of the total cost of the conference;

(ii) the dates of the conference;

(iii) an estimate of the number of full-time equivalent employees attending the conference;

(iv) any costs associated with planning for the conference; and

(v) an explanation of how the conference advances the mission of the agency.

(B) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to preclude an agency from receiving financial support or other assistance from a foundation or other non-Federal source to pay or defray the costs of a conference.

(2) LIMITATION ON CONFERENCE POLICIES.—An agency may not establish or implement a policy that discourages or prohibits the selection of a location for travel, an event, a meeting, or a conference because the location is perceived to be a resort or vacation destination.


Calendar No. 582

113th CONGRESS
     2d Session
S. 1347
[Report No. 113–268]

A BILL
To provide transparency, accountability, and limitations of Government sponsored conferences.

October 1, 2014
Reported with an amendment