Department of Justice Conference Expenditures

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

Chapter 3: Justifications

The DOJ’s traditional law enforcement responsibilities and its emphasis on prevention of terrorist acts require coordination of efforts among all levels of government. To help fulfill DOJ’s mission, components have used a variety of information-sharing approaches. One of these approaches has included hosting and participating in conferences with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and organizations.

Individual DOJ components manage and approve their respective participation in conferences. According to DOJ officials, the decision to host an event or send employees to attend a conference is subject to the availability of funds from individual component appropriations. Since components have significant discretion regarding conferences, we considered an adequate conference justification to include, at the very least, a programmatic reason to hold the event and an approval from an appropriate sponsoring agency official. The method used to justify each event depended on whether the event was planned internally or by an external event planner. Of the 10 conferences we reviewed, 7 hired external event planners through either contracts or cooperative agreements. In contrast, the FBI planned its three conferences. We examined the justifications provided for the 10 conferences in the following sections of the report.

Justifications for Internally Planned FBI Events

The FBI’s Training and Development Division (TDD) serves as the FBI’s primary conference and training planner. TDD personnel receive conference information from FBI sponsors that document reasons and appropriate approvals to hold and finance FBI meetings and other events. Once notified that an event is approved, the TDD assists the FBI conference sponsor by arranging logistics for the event and documenting site comparisons.

We found that both the FBI ITEC Conference and the FBI Polygraph Conference had justifications listed directly on approval documents and TDD event-request forms. For instance, a November 2004 communication for the FBI Polygraph Conference stated that the conference curriculum would satisfy much of the biennial, 80-hour continuing education requirement mandated by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute that governs polygraph examiner certification. Further, the event-request form provided a concise written statement of the purpose of the conference, its needs, logistical requirements, and locations of similar previous conferences.

With respect to the third FBI conference, the FBI’s Office of International Operations (OIO) deploys legal attachés to U.S. embassies to foster cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies. According to OIO conference planners, the reason to hold the FBI Cambodia Conference was based on a recommendation contained in a recent OIO inspection report issued by the FBI Inspections Division. The inspections report found that OIO did not perform adequate pre-deployment training and oversight of its legal attachés. In response to this finding, an FBI conference planning official told us that OIO decided to conduct annual week-long regional trainings at each legal attaché office.21

OJP and COPS Justifications for Contracts and Awards

OJP and COPS hired external event planners to provide logistical support and help plan seven of the conferences selected for review. Justifications for these conferences are found on various types of documents depending on how the sponsoring component procured the event planner for each conference. Table 3-1 lists how each conference’s external event planner was hired, either by contract or cooperative agreement.22

Table 3-1


Conference Name Contract Cooperative
Weed and Seed Conference X  
NIJ Technology Conference   X
PSN National Conference X  
COPS National Conference   X
LEC National Conference X  
OJJDP National Conference23 X X
OVC National Symposium X  
Source: OIG analysis of event planning documents

When sponsoring components hired event planners via a contract, we found summary purposes or reasons to hold the events in the solicitation’s Statement of Work. For example, the OVC National Symposium’s Statement of Work stated that the conference would provide training that would be “essential to ensure that … personnel can effectively work with victims, provide them with services that foster healing, and enhance their satisfaction with and participation in the federal criminal justice system.” The Director of OVC approved this solicitation, its stated reason, and its associated requisition form in June 2003. Planning documents for the Weed and Seed Conference, the PSN National Conference, and the LEC National Conference, which were also supported by contracts, offered similar types of reasons and approvals.

The NIJ Technology Conference, the OJJDP National Conference, and the COPS National Conference used cooperative agreements to hire external event planners. Each cooperative agreement used to hire an event planner documented approval by an appropriate official and contained additional narratives adequately describing the reason to hold each conference.

  1. We noted that OIO did not follow the FBI’s general conference planning procedure by contacting TDD for assistance because FBI policies do not explicitly include foreign conferences in TDD’s area of responsibility.

  2. According to the OJP Financial Guide, a cooperative agreement is a type of award used when OJP anticipates substantial involvement with the recipient during performance of the contemplated activity. Cooperative agreements can be awarded to states, units of local government, or private organizations.

  3. The OJJDP National Conference used a contract to initially hire an external event planner to provide logistical support. At some point during the planning process, OJP issued this event planner a cooperative agreement to continue event planning activities. See Chapter 5 for more information regarding this conference.

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