Section 1353 of title 31, United States Code, permits non-Federal sources, such as organizations, associations, or businesses, to pay the Government for travel, subsistence, and related expenses incurred by Government personnel while in their official capacities to attend meetings, conferences, seminars, symposia, and other similar functions.
The law has been implemented by the General Services Administration (Federal Travel Regulation, 41 C.F.R. Section 304-1(b)). This regulation prohibits the solicitation of payment for expenses.
Before travel payments are accepted from a non-Federal source, prior approval must be granted from the travel approving authority (HRC, ATTN: AHRC-OPF-L), who must make the following determinations:
- Payment is for attendance at a meeting, conference, seminar, speaking engagement, symposium, training course, or receipt of an award or honorary degree related to official duties. This authority does not permit acceptance of payments for promotional vendor training or other events in which the primary purpose is marketing the non-Federal source’s products or services, or events required to carry out an agency’s statutory and regulatory functions, such as inspections, audits, site visits, or negotiations. In addition, the event need not be a “widely attended gathering”.
- Payment is for travel related to the employee’s official duties, and the employee must be in a travel status. Payments or benefits offered by a non-Federal source may be limited by qualifying acceptance to attend only a portion of the function that is deemed to be in the Government’s interest.
- Payment may be accepted only from a non-Federal source that is not disqualified because of a conflict of interest. A “conflicting source” of payments is a non-Federal organization that “has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s duties.” The approving authority must consider the circumstances to determine that acceptance would not cause a reasonable person with knowledge of all the relevant facts to question the integrity of the Government’s programs or operations.
- Approval of payments from a non-Federal source should take into consideration the identity of other expected participants.
- Travel is primarily for the benefit of the Government and not the organization paying for it.
Please see documents for further information.