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