The Pentagon has put in place a tiered approval process for Defense Department officials traveling and attending conferences hosted by the government or private sector.
The new policy is the latest in a series of steps being taken by the government to scrutinize and monitor spending on travel and conferences following a General Services Administration conference spending scandal.
DoD’s new policy affects civilian and military personnel across the services and all DoD agencies.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who since June has been reviewing DoD attendance at all conferences where the total cost is more than $100,000, issued guidance late last month allowing a select number of senior officials to grant waivers for personnel who want to attend these events.
Service secretaries and undersecretaries can now grant waivers to host or attend conferences that cost more than $500,000. Assistant secretaries, the heads of major commands and some agency directors can approve attending or hosting events that cost between $100,000 and $500,000. In the Air Force, the vice commanders of its major commands and deputy commanders at the combatant commands can grant waivers for events in this spending range.
The service secretaries or undersecretaries, combatant commanders, chief of the National Guard Bureau and defense undersecretaries can delegate a general or flag officer or member of the senior executive service as the approval authority for conferences that cost less than $100,000.
Despite the delegation authority, Elizabeth McGrath, the Pentagon’s deputy chief management officer, must still be notified about a conference “that is considered to be particularly high visibility or exhibits unusual circumstances.”
To see the memo issued by Ashton Carter, click here.