The Energy Department has improved its management of conferences it sponsors but there are inaccuracies in its reporting on numbers of attendees and spending, an IG report has said.
The report said that the department “sponsors and/or funds attendance of both federal and contractor employees at a variety of conferences and meetings” on science, energy and national security topics, at a cost of $51 million across 858 events over October 2016-February 2019. In a 2014 report, the IG had found issues including exemptions from reporting requirements set by OMB guidance in the wake of the conference spending scandals government-wide of the prior years, and inaccurate or missing data on costs.
The follow-up report says that “to the department’s credit, we found that it had established procedures to ensure event exemptions are appropriately applied, and provided training for interpreting and applying established event exemptions. Further, we did not identify any issues with the breakdown of food costs in conference approval packages.”
However, it said the department’s conference management tool database “still contained inaccurate attendance and/or cost incurred input entries by responsible personnel for department element-sponsored conferences and did not always include evidence of adequate cost comparisons for department element-sponsored conferences. We also found that the department’s monthly or quarterly reports and annual reports to the OIG contained inaccurate attendance and/or cost incurred data for department element-sponsored conferences.”