Use of Appropriated Funds to Purchase Light Refreshments at Conferences
B-288266, Jan 27, 2003
Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3529(a), a Navy certifying officer asks us to clarify whether the light refreshments provision of the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) on conference planning, 41 C.F.R. 301-74.11, permits agencies to use appropriated funds for refreshments at a meeting to discuss internal, day-to-day business operations held within the official duty station. As a general proposition, an agency may not use appropriated funds to pay for light refreshments for business meetings conducted by government agencies at an employee's duty station. There are certain statutory authorities that may permit the use of appropriated funds for light refreshments in certain situations. GSA does not, however, have the authority to permit agencies to use appropriated funds to pay for employees' food and light refreshments, except as part of an employee's travel subsistence allowance. Moreover, since Congress reposed the authority to settle the accounts of the government in the Comptroller General, 31 U.S.C. 3526, certifying officers should not rely on GSA's travel regulation on conference planning to authorize light refreshments at meetings for employees in nontravel status.