The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently operating under very restrictive policy around the hosting and attending conferences. DoD has adopted a very expansive definition of “conference.” Conference is defined as “a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel.” Events within the local duty station that do not require attendee travel (i.e. local conferences) may also qualify as conferences for the purposes of this guidance if they involve payment of a registration/conference fee and/or take place in a hotel or conference center.
All conferences to be funded with appropriated funds must be affirmatively approved by the proper approval authority or found to be exempt by BUMED Deputy Chief for Resource Management/Comptroller (M8). Conferences attended as no-cost/ Permissive TAD or while on leave status do NOT require BUMED submission for DON/AA approval BUT are still subject to local command approval.
1. There will be no retroactive travel reimbursement for Navy Medicine personnel who travel to conferences at their own expense, even in cases where the conference they attended was subsequently approved.
2. The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) and Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) require that members on funded orders must be fully funded for all travel related expenses. Navy Medicine also requires 100% use of the Defense Travel System (DTS) to process all travel authorizations and payment vouchers. As a result, Navy Medicine activities cannot partially fund travel (i.e. the government cannot pay for lodging and per diem while the employee pays for transportation costs).
3. Members who make any travel arrangements prior to conference approval (buy airline tickets, pay for lodging, pay conference fees) do so at their own risk.
4. Members accepting permissive TAD authorization orders must assume that travel will be at no cost to the government. It is up to the discretion of the Command to convert to funded orders should funding become available and conference attendance is approved before travel is initiated. If permissive TAD orders are cancelled and funded orders issued, the member is not entitled to reimbursement for any expenses in excess of that provided for in the JFTR and JTR.
5. Leave may be requested by the individual member to attend a conference. If leave is approved, then there can be no cost to the Government and the leave authorization cannot later be changed or replaced with cost orders.
The following are not considered conferences and are exempt from the conference approval requirement. Exemptions are not to be determined by Navy Medicine activities. BUMED M8 in coordination with BUMED Legal is the sole determiner of whether an event is exempt from the conference approval requirement:
· Meetings necessary to carry out statutory command and staff oversight functions.
· Meetings to consider internal agency business matters held in government/military facilities.
· Meetings necessary to carry out planning or execution of operational or operational exercise activities or pre-deployment, deployment, or post-deployment activities.
· Bi-lateral and multi-lateral international cooperation engagements that do not exhibit indicia of a formal conference, focused on diplomatic relations.
· Formal classroom training held at government/military facilities.
· Change of command, award, funeral, or other such ceremonies held in government/military facilities.
· Events where the primary purpose of DoD’s participation is military recruiting.
Even where an event is considered exempt, commands are expected to continue to apply strict scrutiny to participation to ensure the best use of Government funds and adherence with not only all applicable laws and policy, but with the underlying spirit or principles, including ensuring that only personnel attend events that have a mission-essential need to do so, that expenses be kept to a minimum, and that participation in any associated social events be limited and restrained to the greatest degree practicable to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Conferences hosted by a DON/DOD component:
Under current policy all conferences hosted by a DoN component require approval. Conferences with costs over $500K require Secretary/Under Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV/UNSECNAV) approval. Conferences with costs below $500K require approval from the Department of the Navy Administrative Assistant (DoN AA) within the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. In the case where more than one DoD component is hosting a conference jointly, the components should designate a lead to obtain approval for the conference through that lead’s appropriate approval authority. Once a DoN/DoD-hosted conference is approved through the designated approval authority, no individual requests for attendance approval are required.
Conferences hosted by non-DoD entities:
Under current policy, attendance at a conference hosted by a non-DoD entity, even attendance by only one person, requires approval. The exceptions to this policy are conferences that have been exempted by BUMED M8 in accordance with the "Exemptions" above. If DoN attendance costs are over $20K SECNAV/UNSECNAV is the approval authority. If DoN attendance costs are below $20K DoN AA is the approval authority. Each DoD component is responsible for obtaining approval for their personnel.
For general inquiries about conferences, please contact:
For information on 'How to submit package for attending a non-DoD conference', click here. (Updated 18 June 2013)
For information on 'How to submit a request package for hosting a conference', click here. (Updated 29 May 2013)
BUMED Approved Event List (as of 18 June 2013) (PDF)