May 22, 2008
Office of Science Laboratory Conferences
The Department of Energy's Office of Science manages ten major laboratories, comprising one of the most comprehensive research systems of its kind in the world. Office of Science entities hold a variety of conferences that bring together a broad range of scientists and researchers to present scientific results, discuss technologies, and expand collaboration. Federal and Department policies provide guidance on the use of Federal and non-Federal funds for conferences, with the objective of ensuring that conferences are managed in a cost effective manner. These policies include restrictions on the use of funds for items such as food, alcohol, and entertainment. Further, the Department requires that conferences be approved in advance and that conference details be included in the Department's Conference Management System database. The System provides senior Department officials with information they need to ensure that Departmentsponsored conferences are managed responsibly. According to the Conference Management System database, the Department held over 900 conferences, symposia, workshops, and meetings in fiscal years 2005 through 2007 at an estimated cost of almost $38 million. However, as discussed in the attached report, we found that these numbers were materialIy understated. We conducted a review of selected Office of Science sponsored or co-sponsored conferences managed by three of its laboratories to determine whether the conferences were managed cost effectively, consistent with applicable policies and regulations. The laboratories were Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.
Topic: Management and Administration