At the outset of our review, we examined information prepared by the JMD Budget Staff in response to the following request from the Subcommittee for conference expenditure information.
FOR DOJ CONFERENCE INFORMATION
Source: Subcommittee request for DOJ conference information dated June 2005
An official from JMD Budget Staff told us that DOJ does not maintain a single financial reporting system capable of providing the information requested by the Subcommittee. Therefore, to respond to the Subcommittee’s request, JMD issued a data call to financial officials from each DOJ component. The data call stressed that JMD required the actual amount each component spent for each of the three items requested by the Subcommittee. Once JMD Budget Staff received the information from the component contacts, they combined the component figures into a single spreadsheet to represent DOJ FY 2005 expenditures.
During our preliminary discussions with JMD Budget Staff in August 2006, we were told that the Subcommittee had also requested FY 2006 conference-related expenses. JMD officials told us that they were compiling the FY 2006 list in a similar manner as the FY 2005 list. In October 2006, JMD provided us with the final results of their 2006 data call that showed both the updated total conference-related costs in FY 2005 and conference activity for FY 2006 as reported by DOJ components.
A member of JMD’s Budget Staff confirmed that the information provided on the FY 2005 and 2006 lists was, “only as good as the information provided to us by each component.” A review of the JMD conference expenditure lists revealed that DOJ components did not provide JMD with the actual costs for each individual conference, as requested. Instead, we found that some components listed charges related to a series of separate events as individual costs on a single line-item. For instance, a $1.3-million expense reported on the JMD list was actually the annual total cost incurred by sending employees to a DOJ training facility. In another case, a group of training events that occurred at separate locations were identified by a single line-item.
Of particular note, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) submitted the total amount spent on its FY 2006 conferences and provided specific cost information for only three events. We contacted DEA officials, who told us that while the DEA’s financial management system could identify the total amount of conference costs, the system could not readily identify specific conferences and associated expenses.
We asked DEA officials how they responded to the JMD data call. An official with DEA’s Office of Resource Management told us that the DEA could only obtain the requested information by making a data call of its own from each DEA office with a conference budget. The official also told us that because the DEA could not accomplish such a data call within the short period of time allotted by JMD for a response, the DEA would only provide specific cost information for three of its conferences, all of which were sponsored by offices within DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
To produce a single list from which to sort reported conference activity, we combined the individual conference data listed in the final conference listings for FYs 2005 and 2006 compiled by JMD into one spreadsheet and excluded any line-item that encapsulated more than one event. From this list we selected 9 of the most expensive DOJ conferences held within the United States and the most expensive DOJ conference held in a foreign location.
As shown in Table 2-2, six conferences were sponsored by program offices within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), three were sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and one was funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).19
DOJ CONFERENCES SELECTED FROM JMD RECORDS
|Formal Conference Name||DOJ Sponsor||Short Name||Location Held||Dates Held||Reported Cost ($) *|
|Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s National Conference: “Building On Success: Providing Today’s Youth With Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow”||OJP, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)||OJJDP National Conference||Washington, D.C.||Jan. 9 - 13, 2006||1,085,568|
|2005 Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) National Conference: “Strengthening Communities One Block at a Time”||OJP, CCDO||Weed and Seed Conference||Los Angeles, CA||Aug. 22 - 25, 2005||875,000|
|2006 Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) National Conference||OJP, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)||PSN National Conference||Denver, CO||May 2 - 5, 2006||864,110|
|4th National Symposium on Victims of Federal Crime||OJP, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)||OVC National Symposium||Atlanta, GA||March 7 - 11, 2005||727,300|
|2006 CCDO Law Enforcement Conference: “The Spirit of Service: Enforce, Empower, and Revitalize”||OJP, CCDO||LEC Conference||Phoenix, AZ||Aug. 14 - 17, 2006||610,000|
|7th Annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Exposition||OJP, National Institute of Justice (NIJ)||NIJ Technology Conference||San Diego, CA||Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2005||575,550|
|FBI Annual Polygraph Examiner’s Conference||FBI||FBI Polygraph Conference||Minneapolis, MN||June 26 - July 1, 2005||532,000|
|2006 National Community Policing Conference: “Community Policing: Leading the Way to a Safer Nation”||COPS||COPS National Conference||Washington, D.C.||July 27 - 29, 2006||525,000|
|2006 FBI Information Technology Exchange Conference (ITEC)||FBI||FBI ITEC Conference||San Antonio, TX||Aug. 7 -10, 2006||500,000|
|FBI, Office of International Operations (OIO) Asia Unit Regional Training Conference||FBI||FBI Cambodia Conference||Phnom Penh, Cambodia||March 12 - 17, 2006||167,480|
|Sources: FY 2005 and 2006 conference expenditure listings compiled by JMD, as combined by the OIG|
* “Reported Costs” may be estimates that do not necessarily include personnel or travel costs.
Since components did not provide JMD with consistent conference cost information, we sought to validate the actual DOJ cost for each event selected from the combined FY 2005 and 2006 conference lists. We worked with the sponsoring DOJ components and external event planners to develop a consistent breakdown of expenses for all 10 conferences. We then sorted each type of identified expense into different general categories that provided an overview of the types of conference costs, as shown in Table 2-3.
CONFERENCE COST CATEGORIES
|Source: OIG analysis of conference expenditures|
As shown in Table 2-4, the total cost to plan and host these conferences was nearly $6.2 million.20 After calculating each event’s planning and hosting costs, we identified DOJ employees on conference attendee or registration lists. We found that many DOJ personnel who attended these events were not employees of the sponsoring component. Consequently, as described in Appendix I, we requested and received voucher expense information from DOJ components that sent employees to each conference. Using this voucher information, we calculated that DOJ components collectively spent almost $1.9 million to send employees to these 10 conferences.
ALLOCATION OF CONFERENCE COSTS BY CATEGORY
|Cost Category|| OJJDP National Conference
| Weed and Seed Conference
| PSN National Conference
| OVC National Symposium
| LEC Conference
| NIJ Technology Conference
| FBI Polygraph Conference
| COPS National Conference
| FBI ITEC Conference
| FBI Cambodia Conference
|No. of Days||5||4||4||5||4||3||6||3||4||6|
|No. of Registrants||1,831||1,542||1,330||787||1,329||1,315||98||1,437||306||46|
|Planning & Hosting (P&H) Costs|
| 1.External Event
| 3.Food and
| 7.Signs and
|Total P&H Costs||1,403,959||941,572||796,004||767,063||603,300||821,450||12,646||823,105||16,081||9,321||6,194,501|
| 9.DOJ Employee
|FINAL DOJ COST||$898,302||$1,046,677||$1,434,375||$1,085,694||$727,711||$277,088||$129,897||$824,859||$381,047||$181,648||$6,987,298|
|Sources: OIG analysis of financial summary reports, drawdowns, and supporting invoices received from sponsoring components and external event
planning companies and DOJ travel vouchers from DOJ attendees
The total planning and hosting cost incurred by sponsoring components or their event planners includes all variable expenses related to supporting the conference, regardless of the payment’s source. As shown in Table 2-4, however, the total DOJ component cost was offset, in part, for two conferences.
OJJDP National Conference. Although the OJJDP National Conference cost $1,403,959 to sponsor, the OJJDP event planner collected $505,657 in registration fees from attendees and exhibitors to offset the total cost of the event.
NIJ Technology Conference. The NIJ Technology Conference cost $821,450 to plan and host. However, we found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Directorate of Science and Technology, provided NIJ with $150,024 to pay for a portion of the event. The NIJ event planner also collected $411,914 in registration fees from attendees and exhibitors, which was used to offset the total cost.
These two events used more than $1 million in non-appropriated DOJ funds to offset the sponsoring component’s hosting and planning costs. Consequently, our review also captures activities paid for by these non-DOJ sources.
Neither the sponsoring component nor the total DOJ cost for each event reconciles to the corresponding cost reported to and used by JMD for its FY 2005 and 2006 conference expenditure lists submitted to the Subcommittee. We discussed the difference between the reported and actual DOJ costs with both JMD and sponsoring component officials. Despite specific instructions to component officials, we confirmed that components did not uniformly report their conference costs to JMD. Regarding the 10 conferences we selected for review, the discrepancies between calculated conference costs and the JMD-reported costs stem primarily from components: (1) reporting budgeted, awarded, or estimated costs instead of actual expenses; and (2) inconsistently including travel and personnel costs in their figures.
Selecting Conference Costs
Since our audit involved 10 different conferences that had different sponsors, event planners, attendees, and locations, we focused our review on certain types of costs that were incurred at each of the conferences. Excluding the DOJ employee travel costs incurred and approved by several different components, we compared the total amounts spent by sponsoring components or event planners for each cost category. As shown in Table 2-5, three cost categories – external event planning, food and beverages, and audio-visual – represent nearly $ 4.4 million, or 71 percent, of the $6.2 million spent to plan and host the 10 conferences.
PLANNING AND HOSTING COST CATEGORY EXPENSES
|Cost Category|| Total Costs
| 1. External Event
| 3. Food and
|5. Printed Media||176,669||3|
| 7. Signs and
|Source: OIG analysis of component and external event planning records|
Considering the amount spent on event planning, food and beverages, and audio-visual equipment varied greatly between conferences, we focused our review on these three cost categories. See Appendix I for more details on our methodology.
Our selection of 10 high dollar conferences to review for the audit revealed that DOJ components did not report individual conference expenditures consistently. In particular, we found that the DEA reported only the total amount spent on its conferences and detailed specific cost information for only three FY 2006 events. When components report only estimated or budgeted conference costs instead of actual costs, DOJ cannot completely or accurately report the actual cost of its conferences.
We recommend that JMD:
Work with DOJ components to provide a uniform way to calculate and report conference costs.
We recommend that the DEA:
Implement procedures allowing for it to report individual conference expenditures when requested by JMD or other oversight entity.