National Institutes of Health--Food at Government-Sponsored Conferences
B-300826: Mar 3, 2005
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) may pay for legitimate, reasonable conference costs, including meals and light refreshments, of a formal conference pertaining to Parkinson's disease subject to the conditions outlined herein. A formal conference typically involves topical matters of interest to, and participation of, multiple agencies and/or nongovernmental participants. In addition, other indicators of a formal conference include registration, a published substantive agenda, and scheduled speakers or discussion panels. An agency hosting a formal conference may consider the cost of providing meals and refreshments to conference attendees an allowable conference cost so long as (1) meals and refreshments are incidental to the conference, (2) attendance at the meals and when refreshments are provided is important for the host agency to ensure full participation in essential discussions, lectures, or speeches concerning the purpose of the conference, and (3) the meals and refreshments are part of a formal conference that includes not just the meals and refreshments and discussions, speeches, or other business that may take place when the meals and refreshments are served, but also includes substantial functions occurring separately from when the food is served. The NIH conference here satisfies these three criteria.