Meeting and Conference Expenses

 

Purpose:   Various regulations, the federal ethics standards and the statute that authorizes VMRF influence whether expenditures related to meetings and conferences are appropriate for VMRF support. Accordingly, in order to be considered for VMRF support by direct payment or reimbursement, VMRF has established the following policy. In addition, this policy describes VMRF’s meeting and conference expense reimbursement mechanisms

 

Overview:  Meetings, conferences, workshops, seminars, town halls, symposia, and other similar meetings are accepted features of conducting research and education. Additionally, certain events, such as retreats and board meetings as well as fundraising and public relations, are necessary for the conduct of business. Incidental to the purpose of such meetings, it may be appropriate to serve meals or refreshments.

Definitions:

  • VMRF support – For the purposes of this policy, VMRF support is defined as the use of ANY VMRF project for payment or reimbursement for meeting and conference expenses. This includes funds received from sponsors, as well as transfer, enrichment and any other type of projects.
  • Meeting - VMRF generally defines a meeting as a gathering involving two or more people for the purpose of discussing a particular topic related to research or education at a location in the greater San Diego area or at a distant location.
  • Conference - A conference is generally an event sponsored by VMRF or another organization for the purpose of disseminating information related to research or education that is of interest to a particular group of people. A conference is usually an advertised event.

Application:  VMRF recommends meeting organizers obtain pre-approval of VMRF support for meetings and conferences by contacting the VMRF Accounting Department before the expenses are incurred. Events lacking pre-approval may be denied support or may receive only partial support. In these cases, the requester of reimbursement will be responsible for finding another way to cover the costs of the meeting or conference.


Reimbursements for allowable and allocable expenses are to be submitted to VMRF Accounting with all of the proper documentation within 90 days of the date the expense was incurred.  Any reimbursements submitted after 90 days may not be reimbursed.

 

Unallowable costs include:

  • Costs of entertainment, diversions, holiday events, social activities, or ceremonials such as birthday, retirement or going-away parties.
  • Alcohol
  • Internal staff meetings and unapproved educational or training activities.

Factors that VMRF will consider when evaluating a meeting for support include:

  • Whether at least one speaker makes a research presentation, presents educational instruction or addresses a topic related to VMRF business operations.
  • Whether there is a non-VASDHS speaker and/or non-VASDHS personnel are among the expected attendees.
  • The frequency of meetings, open attendance, and breadth of attendance will be factors considered for support.
  • Whether the meeting involves at least one individual who is being recruited to conduct research or education at the VAMC, or for involvement in VMRF business operations such as a potential donor, staff member, board member, etc.
  • Length for meeting in relation to normal mealtime.

Submission of the following documentation is a prerequisite for VMRF support:

  • For a research related meeting: A request for VMRF support must include an explicit statement about the research rationale for the event; that is, its research related purpose and how it will further VA research. Accompanying documentation must include the program, agenda or topic of discussion and a roster of attendees. When possible, the request should tie the meeting to an approved research project.
  • For an educational program not related to research: The education activity itself must first be approved by the VASDHC Education Committee. Documentation should include an explicit statement of the purpose and how the program will further the VASDHS’s and/or VA’s education and training mission, the agenda, program or topic of discussion, and a roster of attendees.
  • For other VMRF events: A request must include an explicit statement of how the meeting will further the VMRF’s ability to facilitate research or education. Appropriate events include, but are not limited to retreats, board or annual investigator meetings as well as public relations. Documentation must include the purpose, agenda, program or topic of discussion and a roster of attendees.

 To receive reimbursement for an allowable meeting expense, the VMRF Meeting Expense Form must be completed and all original receipts must be attached. All receipts MUST be itemized in order for VMRF to confirm the allowability of each item purchased.

Costs associated with attending conferences, including sleeping rooms, registration fees, individual meals, per diem, etc., will be reimbursed on the basis of VMRF Travel Expense Voucher form. Requesters must include all original receipts. All receipts must be itemized for VMRF to confirm the allowability of all items purchased. Please see the VMRF Travel Policy for more detailed instructions.

Appropriate funding sources for meetings and conference expenses:

If the topic of a meeting is related to more than one VMRF grant or project or the general operation of a particular group or department, the expense must be charged to a PI's transfer or enrichment account or a departmental enrichment account.

Exceptions

Exceptions to this policy must be applied for in writing and will be authorized only by the VMRF Chief Executive Officer or a representative of the VMRF Board of Directors. Appeals to the decisions of the Chief Executive Officer must be submitted in writing. Exception approvals must be attached to the associated VMRF meeting expense or travel reimbursement request forms.

 

Approved by the VMRF Board of Directors: June 11, 2010