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Barry McVay's FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH

DATE: January 10, 2000

FROM: Barry McVay, CPCM

SUBJECT: Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 89; Conference Planning

SOURCE: Federal Register, January 10, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 6, page 1326

AGENCIES: General Services Administration (GSA)

ACTION: Final Rule

SYNOPSIS: GSA is amending FTR Part 301-74, Conference Planning, to provide specific guidance to minimize overall government expenses and because conferences have different requirements than routine temporary duty (TDY) travel. The most notable change involves the establishment of a "conference lodging allowance" for travellers, which is defined as "a pre-determined maximum allowance of up to 25 percent greater than the applicable locality lodging portion of the per diem rate."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The FTR is Chapters 300 through 304 of Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Public Contracts and Property Management, which together constitute Subtitle F, Federal Travel Regulation System. The primary changes being made by this final rule rule are to Chapter 301, Temporary Duty (TDY) Travel Allowances, Part 301-74, Conference Planning.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 14, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Harte, Travel Team Leader, Travel Management Policy Division (MTT), 202-501-0483.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: GSA's per diem rate setting process involves determining the market room rate for transient travelers by surveying properties and averaging the reported rates. However, not all properties have adequate facilities and meeting rooms to host a conference, so it is often difficult to find a conference facility that meets the lodging rate.

However, lodging costs are only a part of total conference costs. Other costs include facility/meeting room accommodations, transportation, computer and telephone access fees, audio-visual and other equipment, light refreshments, printing, postage, and man-hours. Therefore, on September 15, 1999, GSA published a proposed revision to FTR Part 301-74 which would institute a "conference lodging allowance" that could exceed the lodging portion of the local per diem rate by up to 25%, and provide guidance to federal agencies on how to handle conferences from both a per diem and an overall cost perspective to insure the best value for the government. GSA received 176 comments from the federal government and the private sector: 171 expressed support of the proposed changes, and five asked for clarification or offered suggested improvements. Based on the comments, the proposed rule is finalized with minor clarifying changes.

While FTR Part 301-74 has been substantially reorganized, most of the significant changes in FTR Part 301-74 address the conference lodging allowance in several new FTR sections:

Also, a new Appendix E, Guidance on Conference Planning, is added. It addresses such subjects as planning committees, establishing milestone schedules, preparing specification sheets, budgeting, conference site selection (geographic location, types of facilities, date selection), meals, breaks and refreshments, account reconciliation, announcements and invitations, the registration process (including check-in and check-out of the facility), contents of the conference information package, message centers, mementos, questionnaires, training certificates, and thank you notes to participants.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry McVay at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to BarryMcVay@FedGovContracts.com.

Copyright 2000 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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