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3.10 Conference Approval, Planning, and Reporting

No Prior Approval Required

Prior approval is not required for the following types of award recipients and/or activities.

Grantees Who Do NOT Have a Cooperative Agreement Type of Grant Award

Reasonable conference-related activity costs are allowable uses of OJP/COPS Office funding as long as the grant budget has been approved by OJP/COPS Office. Meals, refreshments, and trinkets generally are not allowable.

  • OJP/COPS Office does not require non-cooperative agreement grantees to obtain additional prior approval from OJP/COPS Office for specific conference costs.
  • Cost limits apply. Even though prior approval of most conference costs by OJP/COPS Office is not required, OJP/COPS Office expects grantees to make every effort to stay within the cost limitation thresholds on meeting space, audio-visual equipment/services, and conference planning, as set out in this guidance. Where grantees plan to exceed (or do exceed) these cost limitations, they must maintain adequate documentation that such costs were reviewed by the grantee through some internal process, and that the costs were determined to be justified by the grantee. This documentation will be subject to review during monitoring and audits.

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In very limited circumstances, grantees may seek prior approval for an exception to provide meals, refreshments, or trinkets with grant funds. OJP/COPS Office rarely approves such requests.

Operational Meetings and Technical Assistance

In response to questions regarding what qualifies as operational meetings and technical assistance visits, OJP/COPS Office developed a checklist to alleviate some of the uncertainty regarding whether an event requires prior approval. Incorporated onto the top of Sheet A of the Conference & Events Submission Form are ten questions. If the answers to all of the ten questions are "No," the event does not require prior approval:

  1. Is the cost of the event greater than $20,000?
  2. Are there meeting room costs?
  3. Are audio-visual costs greater than $25 per attendee or more than $1,000 in total?
  4. Are there any food and beverage costs?
  5. Did the request for the meeting come from multiple jurisdictions or agencies?
  6. Do the participants represent multiple agencies that are not co-located or joined by an agreement (e.g., task force with MOU)?
  7. Are there trinkets being purchased?
  8. Is there a formal published agenda?
  9. Are formal discussions or presentation panels planned?
  10. Are there logistical planning costs beyond incidental internal administrative costs necessary to arrange travel and lodging for a small number of individuals?

The above checklist should be utilized to assist with questions regarding the definition and differences between technical assistant visits and trainings. If the answers to the above questions for an event are all "No" it does not require prior approval.

Law Enforcement Activity

Events that involve staging (as well as victim service provider staging related to a law enforcement operation), surveillance, investigation, intelligence, and undercover activities, and other activities directly related to active law enforcement operations, do not require prior approval.

Training or Speaking at a Non-DOJ-Sponsored Conference

Providing training at or speakers for a non-DOJ-sponsored conference, but not contributing to overall conference planning or costs is generally considered a technical assistance event. These events do not require prior approval if the answer to all the following questions is “No”:

  1. Is the cost of the event greater than $20,000?
  2. Are there meeting room costs that will be paid for with DOJ federal or match funds?
  3. Are the audio-visual costs (if any) greater than $25 per attendee or more than $1,000 in total for this specific event?
  4. Are there any food and beverage costs that that will be paid for with federal funds? (does not include per diem reimbursements to grantee staff or consultants)
  5. Are there logistical planning costs beyond incidental internal administrative costs necessary to arrange travel and lodging?
  6. Is any other type of participation being provided in the event (e.g., exhibit booth sponsorship, overall conference sponsorship, sponsorship or provision of non-workshop good/services)?

Note: ??Providing multiple speakers to a conference (generally exceeding $20,000 in total costs) or providing other types of direct or indirect support (e.g., sponsoring an exhibit booth using federal funding) that offsets the costs of the non-DOJ sponsored conference hosted by a third-party may be considered a federally-funded “sponsor,” which some may construe as OJP/COPS Office-sponsorship of the overall conference. For these reasons, OJP/COPS Office may require these types of situations be approved as a “DOJ-sponsored” event, on a case by case basis.

Testing Activity

The primary purpose is to evaluate an individual's qualifications to perform certain duties necessary to his or her job. The majority of the event must be devoted to the administration and taking of the test. The most common examples include events held for firearms and weaponry proficiency testing and certification. An event that includes testing that is merely incidental to the event, or where such testing is given upon the completion of the event to evaluate the event or determine participation in the event, is not a testing activity.

Video Conferences and Webinars

Webinars and video conferences do not require prior approval if there are no costs for logistical conference planning or for Government-provided food or beverages.