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113th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     113-268
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       Calendar No. 582


                     CONFERENCE ACCOUNTABILITY ACT 
                                OF 2014

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                              to accompany

                                S. 1347

TO PROVIDE TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND LIMITATIONS OF GOVERNMENT 
                         SPONSORED CONFERENCES




                October 1, 2014.--Ordered to be printed

Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of September 18, 2014

        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                  THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware Chairman
CARL LEVIN, Michigan                 TOM COBURN, Oklahoma
MARK L. PRYOR, Arkansas              JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
MARY L. LANDRIEU, Louisiana          RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri           ROB PORTMAN, Ohio
JON TESTER, Montana                  RAND PAUL, Kentucky
MARK BEGICH, Alaska                  MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin             KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota

                  Gabrielle A. Batkin, Staff Director
               John P. Kilvington, Deputy Staff Director
                    Mary Beth Schultz, Chief Counsel
                   Jonathan M. Kraden, Senior Counsel
               Keith B. Ashdown, Minority Staff Director
         Christopher J. Barkley, Minority Deputy Staff Director
               Andrew C. Dockham, Minority Chief Counsel
                  Patrick J. Bailey, Minority Counsel
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk


                                                       Calendar No. 582
113th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     113-268

======================================================================



 
                 CONFERENCE ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2014

                                _______
                                

                October 1, 2014.--Ordered to be printed

Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of September 18, 2014

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Carper, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 1347]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 1347), to provide 
transparency, accountability, and limitations of Government 
sponsored conferences, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute and recommends that the 
bill, as amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for Legislation..............................2
III. Legislative History..............................................4
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported.............4
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................6
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................6
VII. Additional Views.................................................8
VIII.Changes in Existing Law.........................................10


                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The Conference Accountability Act of 2014 seeks to ensure 
that federal agencies spend responsibly and act transparently 
when hosting and sending employees to conferences. It increases 
the transparency of conference spending by requiring agencies 
to publish quarterly reports on conferences that exceed a 
certain amount. The bill establishes limits on the total amount 
agencies can spend on conferences, caps spending on a single 
conference at $500,000, and prohibits agencies from sending 
more than 50 employees to a single international conference.

                II. Background and Need for Legislation

    The past decade has witnessed several well documented cases 
of excessive and wasteful spending at government conferences 
across the federal government, including the Department of 
Justice,\1\ the Department of Veterans Affairs\2\ and the 
Internal Revenue Service.\3\ The most egregious example of 
wasteful conference spending was the Western Regions Conference 
held by the General Services Administration (``GSA'') in 2010. 
In that instance, GSA spent nearly $900,000 on an excessive and 
wasteful conference in Las Vegas, including more than $100,000 
in planning costs, $75,000 for a bicycle building exercise, and 
nearly $150,000 on food. The Inspector General report on GSA's 
Las Vegas conference\4\ attracted sustained media attention and 
resulted in significant changes at the agency.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\See Department of Justice Inspector General report, Audit of 
Department of Justice Conference Planning and Food and Beverage Costs 
(Revised Version), October, 2011 at http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/
plus/a1143.pdf.
    \2\See Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General report, 
Administrative Investigation of the FY 2011 Human Resources Conferences 
in Orlando, Florida, September 30, 2012 at 
http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-12-02525-291R.pdf.
    \3\See Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report, 
Review of the August 2010 Small Business/Self-Employed Division's 
Conference in Anaheim, California, May 31, 2013 at http://
www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201310037fr.pdf.
    \4\See Government Services Administration Inspector General report, 
Management Deficiency Report: General Services Administration Public 
Buildings Service, 2010 Western Regions Conference, April 2, 2012 at 
http://www.gsaig.gov/?LinkServID=90537F5B-FBF8-E39E-
A4F0D09005742C28&showMeta;=0
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In September 2011, shortly after a Department of Justice 
Inspector General report on excessive spending at a number of 
law enforcement conferences,\5\ the Office of Management and 
Budget (``OMB'') attempted to address the issue of excessive 
conference spending with the release of OMB Memorandum 11-35, 
``Eliminating Excess Conference Spending and Promoting 
Efficiency in Government.''\6\ OMB's September 2011 memo 
instructed all agencies and departments to thoroughly review 
the policies and controls associated with conference-related 
activities and expenses. The memo further stated that until an 
agency could certify that the appropriate policies and controls 
are in place to guard against inappropriate spending on 
conferences, the Deputy Secretary of an agency must approve all 
conference-related activities and expenses.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Department of Justice Inspector General report, supra note 1.
    \6\See OMB Memorandum 11-35, Eliminating Excess Conference Spending 
and Promoting Efficiency in Government, September 21, 2011 at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2011/m11-35.pdf.
    \7\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In May 2012, a month after the GSA's excessive spending 
came to light, OMB issued more specific guidance\8\ aimed at 
reducing federal spending on conferences and agency travel and 
to improve accountability on such spending. Under the guidance, 
a Deputy Secretary of an agency is required to review any 
conference spending greater than $100,000, and conferences 
costing more than $500,000 are prohibited unless the spending 
is specifically approved by the Secretary of the agency. 
Furthermore, starting on January 31, 2013 and every January 
thereafter, agencies are required to report publicly on all 
conference expenses in excess of $100,000.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\See Office of Management and Budget Memorandum-12-12, Promoting 
Efficient Spending to Support Agency Operations, May 11, 2012 at http:/
/www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2012/m-12-12.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition to the 2012 OMB guidance, recent appropriations 
bills have included reporting requirements on agency conference 
spending, as well as restrictions on such spending. For 
example, in January 2014, the omnibus appropriations bill that 
was enacted for fiscal year 2014 contained language that 
required agencies to submit annual reports to the agency's 
Inspector General detailing costs and contracting information 
for each conference held by an agency that cost more than 
$100,000.\9\ That bill also restricted agencies from paying for 
the attendance of more than 50 employees at an international 
conference.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-76, 
Sec. 742 (2014).
    \10\Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-76, 
Sec. Sec. 526, 560 and 7051 (2014).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Following the release of OMB guidance and reporting 
requirements in appropriations bills, agency spending on 
conferences significantly decreased. In fiscal year 2013, 
agencies had cut travel expenditures by $3 billion as compared 
to fiscal year 2010 spending.\11\ However, despite the drop in 
conference spending that has taken place, further legislative 
action is needed in order to ensure that transparency and 
accountability continue. The OMB guidance is merely that--
guidance, subject to changing administrations. Furthermore, 
annual appropriations bills are not the best or most 
appropriate method for codifying important transparency and 
reporting requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\Testimony of Beth F. Cobert, Deputy Director for Management, 
Office of Management and Budget, ``Examining Conference and Travel 
Spending Across the Federal Government,'' hearing before the Senate 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 113th Cong. 
(January 14, 2014). A January 2014 report by Rep. John L. Mica, 
Chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government 
Operations, also found that conference spending at the GSA, Internal 
Revenue Services, Veterans Affairs Administration and Department of 
Defense, was reduced by more than $200 million between 2010 and 2012. 
See U.S. House of Representatives Staff report, Oversight of Conference 
Spending Saves Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars, (January 3, 
2014), available at http://mica.house.gov/uploads/
2014%2001%2003%20Federal%20Conference%20Spending%20Reductions%20FINAL.pd
f
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Conference Accountability Act would codify several of 
the requirements in the OMB guidance and annual appropriations 
bills and provide certainty that these transparency measures 
will continue to provide insight into conference spending by 
federal agencies. The bill would: require agencies to publish 
quarterly reports on conferences that exceed a certain amount; 
establish limits on the amount agencies can spend on 
conferences; prohibit agencies from spending more than $500,000 
to support a single conference; and prohibit agencies from 
paying for more than 50 employees to attend a single 
international conference. These common sense reforms would 
bring transparency to conference spending, helping to ensure 
that the excesses of the past cannot take place again in the 
future.
    Finally, thanks to technological advancements, agencies 
will continue to cut conference and meeting costs through 
technology, conference calls, and webinars. However, the 
Committee recognizes the importance of face to face meetings 
within and among agencies and, more importantly, with those who 
work outside the federal government. This Committee has heard 
from numerous groups--including state regulatory agencies, non-
profits, military associations, and scientists--that are very 
concerned that conference and travel limitations could cut off 
their primary means of communication with federal agencies and 
affect their ability to interact with the government.\12\ The 
Committee recognizes that, when properly planned and managed, 
conferences can help foster collaboration and partnerships 
among government employees, state regulators, academia and 
industry. This bill would help strike the necessary balance 
between the need for federal travel and the need to manage 
federal resources responsibly.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\See Statements for the Record in the appendix to the 
``Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal 
Government,'' hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs, 113th Cong. (January 14, 2014).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        III. Legislative History

    Senator Coburn introduced S. 1347, the Conference 
Accountability Act of 2013, on July 23, 2013. The bill was 
referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs. Senators Ayotte, Chiesa, Enzi and McCain cosponsored 
the bill. The bill is similar to H.R. 313, the Government 
Spending Accountability Act of 2013, which passed the House of 
Representatives on July 31, 2013 by voice vote on a motion to 
suspend the rules and pass the bill.
    The Committee held a hearing on January 14, 2014 titled 
``Examining Conference and Travel Spending across the Federal 
Government.'' Witnesses included Beth Cobert, the Deputy 
Director for Management at OMB, Daniel Tangherlini, the 
Administrator of the General Services Administration, the 
Inspectors General of the General Services Administration and 
the Department of Justice, and the Treasury Inspector General 
for Tax Administration.
    The Committee considered S. 1347 at a business meeting on 
July 30, 2014. Senators Coburn, Heitkamp, McCain, and McCaskill 
offered a substitute amendment that made a number of changes to 
the bill as introduced. These include changes to the spending 
limitations on conferences; a change in the cost threshold 
triggering reporting on conference spending; an exemption from 
reporting for military travel for combat, training, and 
deployment; an exemption from reporting for the disclosure of 
unpublished research, as well as for information that would 
undermine national security, international diplomacy, and other 
national concerns; and changes in authority to waive 
limitations on international conferences and spending limits. 
The Committee adopted the substitute amendment and then ordered 
the bill, as amended, reported favorably, both by voice vote on 
July 30, 2014. Senators present for both votes were Senators 
Carper, Levin, McCaskill, Begich, Baldwin, Coburn, Johnson, and 
Ayotte. Senator Landrieu was also present for the vote on the 
bill as amended. Senator Levin requested to be recorded as 
voting ``no'' on the bill.

        IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported


Section 1. Short title

    This section establishes the short title as the 
``Conference Accountability Act of 2014.''

Section 2. Definitions

    This section defines the term ``agency'' as having the 
meaning given that term in section 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5701(1), which 
is: an executive agency; a military department; an office, 
agency, or other establishment in the legislative branch; an 
office, agency, or other establishment in the judicial branch; 
and the government of the District of Columbia. It does not 
include a government controlled corporation, a Member of 
Congress, or an office or committee of either House of Congress 
or of the two Houses.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\5 U.S.C Sec. 5701(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This section defines the term ``conference'' as having the 
meaning given that term in section 300-3.1 of 41 Code of 
Federal Regulations: a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or 
event that involves attendee travel.

Section 3. Government sponsored conferences

    This section prohibits agencies from paying for travel 
costs for more than 50 employees to attend a single 
international conference unless the Deputy Secretary (or 
equivalent position, as appropriate) and Chief Financial 
Officer (CFO) from that agency submit a justification to 
Congress that it is in the national interest.
    It also requires that each agency publish quarterly online 
reports on conferences exceeding $50,000. The report must 
include information outlining:
          (1) itemized expenses paid by the agency;
          (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, video conference, video 
                training, or other means of remote 
                communication;
          (5) the date 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 by the 
        head of the agency that there is no conflict of 
        interest resulting from the support received from each 
        such source.
    This information is not required for military combat or 
training travel, and certain information may be excluded that 
is national security or law enforcement sensitive. Previously 
unpublished scientific and medical research is also exempted 
from disclosure.
    This section also prohibits an agency from spending more 
than $500,000 to support a single conference, unless the agency 
head and CFO submit a written certification in advance to 
Congress that it is in the national interest. Such 
certification would include an estimate of the total cost, the 
dates, an estimate of the number of federal employees 
attending, planning costs, and an explanation of how it 
advances the mission of the agency.
    Finally, section 3 prohibits agencies from establishing 
policies that discourage or prohibit destinations that are 
perceived as resort locations when selecting locations for 
conferences. This provision would ensure that no location is 
``black listed.''

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rule. The Committee agrees with the Congressional Budget 
Office's statement that the bill contains no intergovernmental 
or private sector-mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                   August 28, 2014.
Hon. Tom Carper,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
        Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1347, the Conference 
Accountability Act of 2014.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                              Douglas W. Elmendorf.
    Enclosure.

S. 1347--Conference Accountability Act of 2014

    CBO estimates that implementing S. 1347 would have no 
significant net effect on the federal budget over the 2015-2019 
period. The legislation would limit to $500,000 the amount any 
federal agency could spend to attend or host a single 
conference. Under the bill, no more than 50 federal employees 
working for the same department and stationed in the United 
States would be allowed to attend the same conference held 
outside of the United States. In addition, the legislation 
would require each agency to post quarterly reports on its 
website containing detailed information about all conferences 
hosted or attended by their employees that involve expenses of 
$50,000 or more.
    Most of the provisions of S. 1347 would codify or expand 
current practices of the federal government. Through Executive 
Orders, memorandums, and bulletins, federal agencies have 
already been directed to reduce conference and travel costs, as 
well as to review the need to attend conferences with expenses 
over various thresholds. The federal government spent almost 
$15 billion on travel-related expenses in fiscal year 2012 and 
almost $12 billion in fiscal year 2013. We expect that there 
would be some minor additional costs for agencies to prepare 
reports on travel expenses and to post materials on their 
websites.
    The legislation also could affect direct spending by 
agencies not funded through annual appropriations. Therefore, 
pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO estimates, however, that 
any net increase in spending by those agencies would not be 
significant. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
    S. 1347 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                         VII. Additional Views

                                ------                                


   ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF SENATOR CARL LEVIN ON S. 1347, THE CONFERENCE 
                 ACCOUNTABILITY ACT, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014

    The Conference Accountability Act (S. 1347) would impose 
unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and constrain our nation's 
scientific and military communities from needed collaboration 
and training. While I share the Committee's concern about 
wasteful and inappropriate conference spending, I believe that 
targeted measures to improve transparency and accountability, 
similar to those being implemented by the Administration, are a 
better approach than the one-size-fits-all, excessively 
bureaucratic approach taken in this bill.
    As the Committee notes, reports have identified examples of 
wasteful spending on conferences attended by federal employees 
in previous years. In response, nearly three years ago, in 
September 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) began 
taking steps to prevent wasteful spending on conferences by 
issuing Memorandum 11-35. A year later, OMB put in place 
further accountability on conference spending by publishing 
Memorandum 12-12, which reduced federal travel spending, 
established a stricter regime of senior level approval for 
moderate and large conference expenditures, and instituted a 
public reporting process.
    Two years after Memorandum 12-12, it appears that the OMB 
directives are working. The Committee's report does not cite 
examples of wasteful conference spending that occurred after 
the issuance of the second OMB memorandum. Further, federal 
spending on conferences dropped by more than 50% from fiscal 
year 2010 to 2013, with employees attending nearly 500 fewer 
conferences than before the memorandum. Given these facts, it 
would be reasonable to conclude that the OMB's memoranda are 
addressing concerns with spending on conferences.
    In comparison to the existing OMB efforts, the Conference 
Accountability Act would put in place an unnecessary, one-size-
fits-all policy on conference spending. The Committee suggests 
that ``further legislative action is needed in order to ensure 
that transparency and accountability continue.'' First, the 
Committee's assertion that legislative action is necessary 
leads to the one-size-fits-all approach in the bill. Second, 
absent a failure of administrative efforts in this area, 
conference spending policies are best established at the 
executive branch level to ensure agencies have the flexibility 
to respond to unique agency needs and new developments. For 
example, the Conference Accountability Act would establish a 
rigid, overly broad statutory definition of ``conference'' 
that, according to the Department of Defense (DOD), could cover 
contingency planning meetings, regional security cooperation 
seminars, nuclear assuredness inspections, and even a soldier's 
attendance at Airborne School. Unlike one-size-fits-all 
legislation, administrative guidance provides flexibility to 
make common sense exceptions for examples like those above, on 
an as-needed basis.
    Although the Committee report suggests that the Conference 
Accountability Act codifies the terms of existing OMB guidance 
and appropriations restrictions, the bill would go much further 
than simply making permanent current policy. For example, 
current policy requires reporting of conference spending of 
more than $100,000. The bill would arbitrarily reduce this 
level to $50,000, even though the Committee has little evidence 
that the existing $100,000 level is subject to abuse. In fact, 
only one example of questionable conference spending\1\ cited 
by the Committee would fall below the $100,000 reporting level. 
All other cited conferences would already have been covered at 
the current $100,000 level. The bill would also mandate 
substantial new disclosure requirements, far in excess of what 
is currently required. In particular, the legislation would 
require itemized expenses; a cost-benefit analysis of holding a 
teleconference, video conference, video training, or other form 
of remote communication; the pay grade of employees attending 
the conference; and detailed information on any presentation 
made by a federal employee at the conference. No cost-benefit 
analysis has been made of these very burdensome requirements; 
clearly there would be significant additional costs. For the 
Department of Defense alone, implementation costs are estimated 
to be approximately $39 million, which are not offset in the 
bill. It is ironic that the bill would mandate a cost-benefit 
analysis of every conference, yet the Committee offers no 
estimate of the savings that would result from the bill itself.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\The Indian Country Sex Offender Pre-Conference Institute held in 
Palm Springs, CA on Dec. 10, 2008, which had a total cost of $90,201, 
of which the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General found $5,541 
was spent on overpriced food and beverage.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Additionally, the Conference Accountability Act could harm 
our scientific community. The bill could have a chilling effect 
on scientific conference attendance and presentations. By 
limiting attendance at many conferences, the bill could result 
in only senior level officials attending. However, many 
innovative discoveries result from collaborative efforts 
between less senior employees working with industry experts or 
international peers, and if this bill were to be enacted, these 
opportunities could be severely limited. 123 medical 
organizations and 70 scientific organizations have signed 
letters of opposition to this bill, and we should carefully 
consider the impact before passing a bill which would have such 
wide-ranging consequences.
    The Conference Accountability Act is a bureaucratic, one-
size-fits-all bill that would impose significant burdens on 
federal agencies without demonstrating that it would produce 
meaningful savings. Wasteful spending on conference attendance 
is unacceptable and should be stopped. However, we should stop 
it in a thoughtful way, which the Administration has already 
implemented, rather than using the blunt and unnecessarily 
burdensome approach of this bill.
                                                        Carl Levin.

    VIII. Changes in Existing Statute Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the following changes in existing 
law made by the bill, as reported, are shown as follows: 
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


TITLE 5. GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


          CHAPTER 57. TRAVEL, TRANSPORTATION, AND SUBSISTENCE

Sec.
5701. Definitions.
     * * * * * * *
5712. Limitations and reports on conference expenses.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 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.