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To accomplish our objectives, we reviewed the Board’s Official Meals Expenses Policy and Acquisition Policy, the Records Policy and Procedures Manual, and the Procurement section’s Procurement Procedures to identify risks and corresponding controls. To gain detailed knowledge of the Board’s process for conducting conference-related activities, we interviewed staff from 11 of the 13 Board divisions:8
We also interviewed specialists in Procurement and Visitor Services who are involved in coordinating conferences held at non-Board facilities. We performed detailed transaction testing to assess the effectiveness of controls, the accuracy of costs reported, and compliance with conference-related policies.
The scope of our evaluation included conference-related activities from January 1, 2010, to June 30, 2012, as provided to the OIG by the point of contact for each division. Although the Board does not follow the Federal Travel Regulation, to establish consistency in identifying conference activities for our evaluation, we referenced the regulation’s definition of conferences. The Federal Travel Regulation defines a conference as “a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involved attendee travel. The term ‘conference’ also applies to training activities that are considered to be conferences under 5 C.F.R 410.404.”9
We judgmentally selected our sample of conferences based on conference cost and location. During the scope of our evaluation, the Board held 728 conferences with expenses totaling $1,922,427. Of these conferences, we selected 30 conferences with expenses totaling $779,689 for review. Because the Board does not have a central tracking mechanism for conference-related costs, we were unable to conduct completeness testing to confirm the number of conferences and the corresponding costs reported by the divisions. Following our sample selection, we obtained supporting documentation for conferences, including hotel invoices, purchase orders, purchase requisitions, and food and beverage requests, from the divisions that held conferences during the scope of our evaluation. We tested for cost accuracy and compliance with Board policies and procedures related to conference activities.
We conducted our fieldwork from June 26, 2012, to November 21, 2013. We conducted our evaluation in accordance with the Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation issued by the Council of Inspector General on Integrity and Efficiency.