Department of Justice Conference Expenditures

Audit Report 07-42
September 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


The objectives of the audit were to review: (1) the justifications offered for the event; (2) the site-cost comparisons on where to hold the event; and (3) certain conference-related costs – including food and beverages, external event planning, and audio-visual – for compliance with applicable laws and regulations, related to the nine highest dollar conferences held within the United States, and the most expensive DOJ conference held in a foreign location.62

Scope and Methodology

Our audit was limited to a review of 10 conferences held between October 2004 and September 2006. We performed the audit in accordance with the Government Auditing Standards, and included tests and procedures we believed necessary to accomplish the audit objectives. As detailed in Chapter 2, JMD prepared the listing of more than 3,000 conferences in response to congressional inquiries. Using the JMD list, we selected 10 conferences – nine conferences held in the United States and one conference held overseas – that reported the highest cost.

We conducted our internal audit fieldwork at DOJ, FBI, OJP, and COPS offices in Washington D.C., and Quantico, Virginia. We also contacted, visited, and performed work at private-sector and non-profit organizations that were provided DOJ funds to plan and administer the Department-sponsored conferences. In addition, we identified and reviewed federal acquisition and travel regulations, GAO decisions, DOJ directives, and component-level guidance regarding conference planning, travel, and allowable expenditures. We also reviewed and analyzed conference planning documents and summaries, conference attendance lists, memoranda of understanding, invoices, and relevant congressional testimony.

Planning and Hosting Costs

As discussed in Chapter 2, we selected conferences with expenses in the three largest overall categories to review and identify unallowable and extravagant costs. We reviewed and verified expenditures for conference planning and hosting costs from event planner and supplier invoices and assigned each expense to one of eight categories for comparative purposes. To select the one cost category to review for each event, we ranked each conference according to the amount spent in each category as shown in Table I-1.

Table I-1


Conference Name External
Rank   Food and
Rank   Audio-
Visual ($)
OJJDP National Conference 605,619 1 291,940 2 62,930 6
Weed and Seed Conference 197,565 5 394,008 1 147,779 2
PSN National Conference 196,798 6 108,866 6 143,469 3
OVC National Symposium 310,394 3 98,350 7 148,738 1
LEC Conference 145,767 7 181,002 4 122,577 4
NIJ Technology Conference 409,535 2 175,101 5 38,976 7
FBI Polygraph Conference n/a 8 7,468 9 1,496 9
COPS National Conference 213,174 4 274,546 3 89,185 5
FBI ITEC Conference n/a 8 8,334 8 7,747 8
FBI Cambodia Conference n/a 8 4,219 10 0 10
TOTALS $2,078,852   1,543,834   762,897  
Source: OIG analysis of component and external event planning records

Our rankings found that the OJJDP National Conference spent the most on external event planners with $605,619 in allocated costs. The Weed and Seed Conference, with $394,008, spent more on food and beverages than any other selected conference. Likewise, the OVC National Symposium incurred $148,738 in audio-visual expenses, the highest of any event.

To determine the cost category reviewed for three of the remaining seven unselected conferences, we selected the highest ranked unselected conference in each cost category. We chose the NIJ Technology Conference’s $409,535 external event planning charges, the COPS National Conference’s $274,546 food and beverage expense, and the PSN Conference’s $143,469 audio-visual equipment and services cost.

To provide a contrast to the two high-dollar figures selected for each of the three categories, we judgmentally chose the cost category to review for the remaining four conferences. Since the FBI Cambodia Conference did not report any external event planning or audio-visual charges, we chose to review this event’s food and beverage costs. Likewise, we chose external event planning costs for the LEC Conference since this was the only remaining event reporting such expenses. For the remaining two FBI events, we selected which conference to review audio-visual and food and beverage costs to maximize the dollar amount reviewed. This meant that we chose food and beverage costs for the FBI Polygraph Conference and audio-visual costs for the FBI ITEC Conference. Table I-2 presents the results of this selection by cost category.

Table I-2


Conference Name Amount
External Event Planning
OJJDP National Conference 605,619
NIJ Technology Conference 409,535
LEC Conference 145,767
Food and Beverages
Weed and Seed Conference 394,008
COPS National Conference 274,546
FBI Polygraph Conference 7,468
FBI Cambodia Conference 4,219
OVC National Symposium 148,738
PSN National Conference 143,469
FBI ITEC Conference 7,747
Source: OIG analysis of component and external event planning records

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 detail the results of our review of the above-selected costs totaling $2.1 million.

Multi-Component Costs

Other DOJ components, including sponsoring components, incurred almost $1.9 million in costs resulting from sending employees to attend the 10 reviewed conferences. To review the travel expenses incurred by various DOJ components that sent employees to the reviewed events, we obtained and counted the number of DOJ attendees appearing on each event’s registration or attendance list. These listings served as our basis for determining our sample of employee travel vouchers to test.

As shown in Table I-3, we found that 1,841 DOJ employees registered to attend the 10 conferences.63

Table I-3


Name of Conference Location and Date Number of
OVC Symposium Atlanta, Georgia
March 7 - 11, 2005
FBI Polygraph Conference Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 26 - July 1, 2005
Weed and Seed Conference Los Angeles, California
August 22 - 25, 2005
NIJ Technology Conference San Diego, California
October 31 - November 2, 2005
OJJDP National Conference Washington, D.C. January 9 - 13, 2006 31
FBI Cambodia Conference Phnom Penh, Cambodia
March 12 - 17, 2006
PSN National Conference Denver, Colorado
May 2 - 6, 2006
COPS National Conference Washington, D.C.
July 27 - 29, 2006
FBI ITEC Conference San Antonio, Texas
August 7 - 11, 2006
LEC Conference Phoenix, Arizona
August 14 - 17, 2006
Sources: OIG analysis of conference registration lists, component financial data, and
              voucher records

A total of 12 different DOJ components sent employees to the 10 reviewed conferences.

We randomly selected travel vouchers to sample and test for compliance with pertinent travel rules and regulations. Since each component is responsible for authorizing and approving individual employee travel vouchers, we based the number of vouchers to sample on vouchers generated by employees of each component who actually traveled to attend a conference. We determined which employees generated travel vouchers to attend the 10 conferences and selected a number of travel vouchers we believed necessary to provide a reasonable assurance that the components and their employees complied with travel rules and regulations.64

As shown in Table I-4, we selected a sample of 253 travel vouchers generated by DOJ employees from the 12 components and offices to test the 10 reviewed conferences’ multi-component costs.

Table I-4


Component Number
  Component Number
BOP 2 OJP 35
FBI 60 DEA 17
ATF 29 USMS 15
Criminal Division 11 DOJ Headquarters 14
Source: OIG selection of travel vouchers

Chapter 6 details the results of our review of multi-component travel voucher costs.

  1. As described in Chapter 2, we used conference expenditure lists compiled by JMD to identify the 10 highest-dollar conferences to review for the audit.

  2. Some conference planners or sponsors did not have finalized attendance rosters showing who actually attended the event. Consequently, we used each conference’s most recently available registration list to identify DOJ employees.

  3. For each component, we selected: (1) 10 percent of the number of vouchers for each conference if 100 or more employees attended; (2) 10 vouchers, if less than 100 attended; or (3) all vouchers if less than 10 employees attended.

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