3.10 OJP/COPS Office Conference Approval, Planning, and Reporting
Prior Approval Required
Prior approval is required for the following types of award recipients and/or activities.
Grantees Who Have a Cooperative Agreement Type of Grant Award
Cooperative agreement recipients must seek and obtain OJP/COPS Office's prior written approval for each event held with OJP/COPs Office funds, and for all conference costs associated with that event that are paid by OJP/COPS Office funds.
- No conference (regardless of the number of attendees) can proceed, nor can conference-related contracts (e.g., hotel contracts and travel arrangements/reservations) be signed, or conference implementation funding be obligated/work authorized (whether performed by cooperative agreement staff or outside staff), until the cooperative agreement recipient has obtained DOJ’s approval in writing.
- Approval of the overall cooperative agreement proposal or budget does not grant prior approval to use federal funds for events anticipated in the budget.
- The reasonable minimal costs of identifying conference locations and developing the itemized cost estimates required to assemble and submit a conference cost approval request are allowable without prior approval by OJP/COPS Office. However, cooperative agreement recipients should work with the relevant program office to ensure that any costs authorized are reasonable and minimal.
- Those entities with conference planning contracts providing support for planning as well as implementation logistics should only authorize the tasks absolutely necessary to identify the most cost-effective conference locations/services, and to prepare and negotiate cost proposals for submission to DOJ.
Contractors must seek and obtain OJP/COPS Office's prior written approval for each event held with OJP/COPS Office funds, and for all conference costs associated with that event that are paid with OJP/COPS Office funds.
Timing of Requests for Prior Approval
Mandatory Timeframe for Prior Approval Request
Conferences costing $100,000 or less, and not exceeding any cost thresholds (conference space & audio-visual equipment/services, logistical conference planner, and programmatic conference planner)
Requests must be submitted to OJP/COPS Office 90 calendar days in advance of the "earliest" of the following:
Conferences costing over $100,000, or exceeding any cost thresholds (conference space & audio-visual equipment/services, logistical conference planner, or programmatic conference planner)
Requests must be submitted to OJP/COPS Office 120 calendar days in advance of the "earliest" of the following:
OJP/COPS Office may, at its sole discretion, consider prior approval event requests that are submitted late, but cannot assure that such requests will receive a decision in time to avoid having to cancel the conference (particularly if there are any issues that arise with specific items of cost in the request). Cancellation costs associated with conferences that are submitted for late prior approval may be determined to be unallowable costs by OJP/COPS Office.
Submitting an Event Request
All cooperative agreement and contract recipients must complete the Conference & Events Submission Form and obtain OJP/COPS Office's prior written approval for each event held with OJP/COPS Office funds. Each submission must contain all the applicable information (e.g., start date, end date, conference planner, M&IE) to assist in a thorough review. The recipient must provide justification where required by the form. If additional space is needed, please add a tab to the form. All supporting documentation should be embedded and included within the spreadsheet file. This ensures one file per submission, reduces the number of questions, and reduces the possibility of necessary information getting lost or separated from the main submission file. Note: Supporting calculations and agendas (submitted on a separate tab) must be included in all submissions.
To obtain a blank copy of the form click here.
Submitting a Blanket Request
A Conference & Events Submission Form may be completed to host a series of the same or similar pre-arranged events containing multiple delivery dates scheduled to take place within the same fiscal year. The recipient must first estimate the average cost of each event and select the highest cost from each event to complete the submission form. Click here to obtain instructions for submitting a blanket request.
Submit completed prior approval requests on the Conference & Events Submission Form to the following email addresses:
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA): BJAConferencereport@usdoj.gov
All other OJP Bureaus and Offices: OJPConferencecosts@ojp.usdoj.gov
COPS Office: COPS.Conferencecosts@ojp.usdoj.gov
Prior Approval Submission Issues
- The conference has not occurred and additional costs have been identified.
- If additional costs not represented in the submitted prior approval request are estimated to exceed 10% and $1,000 of the original prior approval amount in any conference cost category or in total, the contractor/cooperative agreement recipient should submit an amended conference request form containing the new amounts for prior approval.
- If the conference now exceeds $100,000 in total costs, or if any cost category thresholds are exceeded, additional review is required beyond OJP/COPS Office. The new request for prior approval should be submitted 120 days prior to the conference date. If the resubmission is outside of that timeframe, OJP/COPS Office may not have adequate time for the review and approval process.
- Conference was not approved in advance:
- If the conference has occurred without advance approval, the contractor/cooperative agreement recipient must submit the required conference approval form with detailed justification as to why the event was not submitted for advance approval. The conference approval form must be reviewed/approved by the bureaus and program offices. OJP/COPS Office may, in its sole discretion, consider approving the event retroactively. If OJP/COPS Office considers costs ineligible for approval, the costs will be unallowable.
- Cost estimates:
- Cooperative agreement and contract recipients must provide detailed cost estimates for each conference cost category (e.g., lodging rate per attendee, itemized audio-visual cost, transportation). Cost comparisons should be conducted to minimize costs of contracts for services, unless a specific provider is required by a facility. See Location Selection for a discussion of facility and venue selection.
When determining the total cost of a DOJ-funded conference, all costs incurred by the recipient under the award must be included (see specific categories below).
- Actual or estimated costs.
- Recipients must provide actual costs where possible, but may provide estimates for purposes of submitting requests for prior approval. For post-event reporting, actual costs must be provided.
- Costs covered by non-DOJ co-sponsors are not subject to the conference cost limits and restrictions, do not require prior approval by OJP/COPS Office, and do not have to be reported as part of the DOJ-funded event. Such co-sponsor funding generally is not considered program income.
- Program income/fees.
- Conference costs covered by program income (for example, from conference fees) are not subject to the conference cost thresholds and restrictions, do not require prior approval by OJP, and do not have to be reported as part of the DOJ-funded event. For purposes of overall conference prior approval, however, if program income will be used to offset a conference cost line item, please demonstrate that in the supporting calculations. Also ensure that any agendas with meals or refreshments funded by program income or other non-DOJ funding are clearly labeled as not funded by DOJ. Recipients that are permitted to charge fees, or otherwise generate program income, must account for those funds up to the same ratio of Federal participation as funded in the project or program. Example: A discretionary award project funded with 100% Federal must account for and report on 100% of the total program income earned. If the total program income earned was $20,000, the recipient must account for and report the $20,000 as program income on the Federal Financial Report (FFR), SF-425.
- Individual purchases.
- Individual purchases of goods or services by attendees of the conference at the conference location are not considered to be "conference fees." An independent contractor (e.g., hotel, vendor), without any federal involvement whatsoever, may collect fees from recipients to cover the costs of specific goods or services that cannot be purchased with federal funding or are otherwise not approvable, so long as the good or service is not prohibited (e.g., alcoholic beverages). These fees are not considered program income and should only be collected to offset the costs incurred.
- Ticketed events.
- Related to individual purchases, a recipient may hold a session where attendees have the option of purchasing a meal or refreshment directly from the hotel (a "ticketed event"). A recipient may communicate the availability of such a session to conference attendees, and as long as the recipient is not involved in the collection of the fees, the fees are not considered program income. The costs for services provided by the independent vendor with such fees are not subject to the conference cost thresholds and restrictions, do not require prior approval by OJP/COPS Office, and do not have to be reported as part of the DOJ-funded event.
- Attendee costs.
- For prior approval and reporting purposes, a cooperative agreement recipient must report all costs of attendance supported by the award, including conference scholarships where that recipient administers the scholarships. (When determining overall conference costs, OJP/COPS Office may supplement the recipient's data with available data on attendance costs related to DOJ employees, and non-DOJ attendees whose attendance is supported by scholarships administered by an entity other than that primarily responsible for planning and/or hosting the conference.)