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Board Report: 2014-FMIC-B-009 June 30, 2014

The Board Should Enhance Its Policies and Procedures Related to Conference Activities

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Appendix A: Scope and Methodology

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

  • Division of International Finance
  • Division of Research and Statistics
  • Office of Financial Stability
  • Management Division
  • Office of the Chief Operating Officer
  • Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
  • Division of Monetary Affairs
  • Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation
  • Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems
  • Legal Division
  • Office of Board Members

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.

  • 8. The Division of Information Technology reported that it did not conduct any conference-related activities during the scope of our evaluation. As a result, we did not interview staff from the division. In addition, we did not include the OIG in the scope of this evaluation because we are not independent with regard to the OIG’s internal control activities. Return to text
  • 9. Agencies may sponsor an employee’s attendance at a conference as a developmental assignment under section 4110 of title 5 of the United States Code when (1) the announced purpose of the conference is educational or instructional; (2) more than half the time is scheduled for a planned, organized exchange of information between presenters and audience, which meets the definition of training in section 4101 of title 5, United States Code; (3) the content of the conference is germane to improving individual and/or organizational performance; and (4) developmental benefits will be derived through the employee’s attendance. Return to text