NASA Internal Memo: New Controls on NASA Conference Participation in FY 09

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, October 6, 2008

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Washington, DC 20546-0001
October 6, 2008

Reply to attn of; Office of the Chief Financial Officer

TO: Distribution

FROM: Deputy Chief Financial Officer

SUBJECT: New Controls on NASA Conference Participation in FY 09

The NASA Authorization Act, H.R. 6063, which has passed both the House and the Senate, is awaiting signature by the President. It contains a new provision restricting National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) total authorized spending on conferences to $5 million in FY 09. This limit represents an over two-thirds reduction in spending from FY 08. NASA's systems and processes will need to be updated to ensure compliance with this new requirement.

Until further notice, no FY 09 funds are to be committed, obligated or disbursed to sponsor, travel to, or pay admission to an international or domestic conference. No commitments or obligations to conference facilities or hotels may be made using FY 09 funds. Conferences that are planned in the current quarter, or attendance at conferences in the current quarter, may proceed as long as only FY 08 funds are used for all participants. For example, any travelers attending the Advancement of Safety Conference this month may only use FY 08 funds for travel or fees.

The limitation on FY 09 funds applies to NASA's cost-reimbursable contracts, including NASA's contract with JPL. NASA may not direct contractors, subcontractors or grant recipients to attend or sponsor conferences.

The following activities are not categorized as conferences (unless titled as such), will not be included in the $5 million budget limitation, and may proceed as planned in FY09:

  • Travel to conduct programmatic reviews or meetings with only NASA civil service and NASA-funded contractors in attendance for which no fees are charged and no food is provided
  • Training at NASA facilities or Federal training facilities such as OPM's Federal Executive Institute
  • Open houses, technology or research symposiums conducted on NASA facilities for which no fees are charged and no food is provided; these may include non- NASA speakers
  • Technology or science exhibits, and staff required to support them, at public events in the United States, for which no admission fees are paid by NASA
  • Attendance at air shows

Additionally, NASA and JPL salaries are not considered to be conference expenses that count against the $5 million budget limitation. NASA civil servants and JPL employees may attend conferences on approved invitational orders that fully reimburse NASA or JPL for travel and fees to present papers upon request. As always approved reimbursable travel arrangements should be approved in advance, and should not be solicited. ---

In addition, the legislation significantly restricts expenditures for the Space Flight Awareness Awards Program. The legislation prohibits NASA from using any FY 09 funds for a Space Flight Awareness Launch Honoree Event conference, which we are defining as an awards banquet, luncheon or dinner. The legislation also imposes a cap on other Space Flight Awareness expenses, permitting NASA to spend no more than onehalf of the total amount of funds expended on such activities in FY 08. Given this significant restriction, no FY 09 funds are to be expended on any Space Flight Awareness activities until a new process has been established.

This direction is intended to be temporary, to ensure that we do not create a problem before we have time to establish new processes. NASA's Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of the General Counsel will be establishing more detailed guidance and processes as well as budget allocations for organizations for conference activities'& FY 09. Each organization should determine at this time what conferences it had planned to sponsor, and any existing commitments for conference facilities in FY 09, for which funds may not ultimately be available for the facility, or for which attendance may be significantly below what might have been guaranteed to the facility. Each organization must also ensure that travel to conferences using FY 09 funds is not approved until the new processes are established. Offices that had planned to use FY09 funds to sponsor conferences in the current quarter should provide that information to OCFO/Jean Rayhle immediately at

A fundamental mandate of the original Space Act of 1958 is that NASA "shall provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." With this new $5 million budget limitation, it will be critical that we establish policies and processes to prioritize our spending, to maximize our effectiveness with this now severely limited resource.

Please contact David Schurr if you have any questions.


Terry Bowie


Deputy Administrator/Ms. Dale
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Ames Research Center/Dr. Worden
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Resource Managers
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Science Mission Directorate/Mr. Tupper
Shared Capability Asset Program/Ms. Humprey
Space Operations Mission Directorate/Ms. Mumford

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