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NPR 9770.1A
Effective Date: November 17, 2020
Expiration Date: November 17, 2025
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: NASA Conference Approval and Reporting

Responsible Office: Office of the Chief Financial Officer

| TOC | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | Chapter4 | Chapter5 | AppendixA | AppendixB | ALL |

Chapter 2. Conference Identification

2.1 General

2.1.1 In this directive, the term "conference" means a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel.

NOTE: This definition is from the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. §§300-3.1. The exclusions in Section 2 are based on 41 C.F.R. app. C to ch. 301. Both the FTR and OMB Memorandum M-12-12, as amended by OMB Memorandum M-17-08, recognize there is an overlap between the term "conference" and terms like "training," but unlike the FTR, OMB Memorandum M-12-12/17-08 requires reporting of all conference costs regardless of its additional purpose as training. In view of this, the scope of Section has been narrowed to exclude activities that might be reasonably considered "conferences" in terms of use under the FTR.

2.2. Exclusions

2.2.1 Operational Meeting. The term "conference" does not include Mission (Operational) Meetings. A Mission (Operational) Meeting is a meeting necessary to perform Agency managerial or operational activities as part of day-to-day operations. For purposes of this policy, there are two types of Operational Meetings, Formal Operational Meetings and Other Operational Meetings.

NOTE: Per 41 CFR §301 app. C to ch. 301 "Mission (Operational)" travel means travel to a particular site in order to perform operational or managerial activities. Travel to attend a meeting to discuss general agency operations, review status reports, or discuss topics of general interest.

Examples: Employee's day-to-day operational or managerial activities, as defined by the agency, to include, but not be limited to: hearings, site visits, information meetings, inspections, audits, investigations, and examinations. Formal Operational Meetings are operational meetings required under an NPD or NPR for project management or Agency governance purposes, including:

a. Governance Meeting: A meeting held for Agency governance by one of the Councils or Advisory Committees set forth in NPD 1000.3, NASA Organization.

b. Program and Project Management Meeting: A meeting required for program and project oversight, planning, review, and approval. Examples of these include meetings of the oversight bodies and reviews set forth in NASA's project management NPRs (NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements, NPR 7120.7, NASA Information Technology Institutional Infrastructure Program and Project Management Requirements, and NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and Technology Program and Project Management Requirements) and program readiness reviews (NPD 8610.24, Launch Services Program Pre-Launch Readiness Reviews). Also included are all meetings with the Executive Office of the President or Congress. Other Operational Meetings. Meetings, other than Formal Operational Meetings, held in furtherance of NASA's missions and operations. Other Operational Meetings include the following (but exclude meetings under the Special Cases in Section

a. Other Programmatic and Institutional Meetings. Meetings necessary for NASA management or operational activities as part of routine Agency business. Included are activities such as project planning and prioritizations, project development work or operations, property management, reviews, audits, investigations, and inspections.

b. Interagency Meetings. Meetings with officials of another governmental agency (Federal, state, local, or international) on mission or operational matters of mutual interest to NASA and the other governmental agency, such as hearings, technical coordination, joint operations, or programmatic planning. Special Cases. There is an inevitable overlap between the terms "Operational Meeting" and "conference" as used in the FTR. Notwithstanding the operational focus of Other Operational Meetings under Sections, one can become a "conference" depending on how the event is structured. In view of this, to the extent an "Other Operational Meeting" also meets the following criteria, it will be considered a conference for purposes of this directive:

a. Open Participation at an Onsite Meeting—where NASA sponsors a meeting on one of its facilities with multiple speakers that is open to external participants (i.e., persons other than those working directly for or with NASA on the missions or programs being discussed) and the purpose of the meeting is to promote general awareness or to disseminate or exchange information about NASA missions or programs with the participants. This does not include news events, such as press conferences and launch viewings, coordinated by the Office of Communications to announce research results, mission milestones, annual budget releases, and the like to Congress or the media.

b. Large Offsite Meetings—where NASA pays for a rented facility to host an offsite meeting to accommodate 30 or more participants.

NOTE: As a general matter, offices are encouraged to carefully review the justification for renting offsite facilities for meetings. However, small meetings typically do not meet the indicia of a formal conference and would cause over-reporting of non-conference meetings. By contrast, a 30-person event is recognized in 41 C.F.R. § 301-74.14 as the threshold for requiring more formal conference site comparisons and records.

c. Conference Determinations by Another Agency—where another U.S. Government agency is hosting the meeting, NASA will adopt the other agency's determination and only report, under OMB Memorandum M- 12-12, as amended by OMB Memorandum M-17-08, those events considered a "conference" by the host agency.

2.2.2 Training. As defined in the Government Employees Training Act (GETA) (5 U.S.C. §§ 4101, et. seq.), the term "training" means a planned, prepared, and coordinated program, course, curriculum, subject, system, or routine of instruction or education in scientific, professional, technical, mechanical, trade, clerical, fiscal, administrative, or other fields intended to improve individual and organizational performance and assist in achieving the Agency's mission and performance goals. The implementing regulations for GETA distinguish between other forms of training and training at a conference (see Definitions, 5 C.F.R. § 410.101). Examples of non-conference training include classroom training, on-the-job training, technology- based training, satellite training, (individual) coaching, mentoring, career development counseling, details, rotational assignments, and cross training (see Options for Developing Employees, 5 C.F.R. § 410.203). These are not within the meaning of "conference." However, where the training is imbedded within a broader event that otherwise meets the definition of a conference, it should be reported as such, regardless of whether some portion of the activities qualifies as "training."

NOTE: While conferences may take on many forms, it is helpful to consider recognized indicia of a formal conference when determining whether a uniquely structured event that includes training is also a "conference." These indicia include: (1) participants from multiple agencies or organizations, (2) discussions involving topical matters of interest to the participants, (3) scheduled speakers or discussion panels, (4) published substantive agenda, and (5) registration. Since most Federal agencies lack the authority to charge registration, this last indicium would not apply to conferences they sponsor. But, to the extent there is a substantive agenda with discussions on topical matters, with multi-entity participation, it is more likely that reasonable persons would consider such an event a conference, notwithstanding special training or strong programmatic focus.

2.2.3 Special Agency Mission. This includes unique activities outside NASA's normal course of day-to-day business. Examples include reimbursable details, security missions, and Agency emergency preparedness/recovery.

2.3 NASA Sponsorship

2.3.1 Primary Sponsor. NASA is considered a "primary sponsor" if it is the sole sponsor of the event or one of the principal cosponsors. In comparing cosponsors' costs to determine whether NASA is a primary sponsor versus a minor sponsor, only sponsorship costs, not travel or exhibit costs, will be considered. NASA is not considered a primary sponsor if its sponsorship contribution is significantly less (e.g., half or less) than the leading cosponsor or if its relative contribution is minor (e.g., less than 25 percent of the total contributed). See NAII 9770.1, Appendix B, for guidance on determining sponsorship costs.

2.3.2 Multiple NASA Organizations Cosponsoring One Conference. If multiple NASA Offices or Centers fund an event and, together, the level of sponsorship meets the primary sponsor criteria, the Office or Center responsible for the events overall planning and sponsorship will be responsible for determining whether it is a conference, and as applicable, approving the site selection, contracting for facilities and services, and preparing and submitting required approvals and post-conference reports, including the NF 1784 and NF 1785.

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