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General Info FDA Employees

General Information about FDA Employee Who Attend, Participate in or Speak at Non-Federal Meetings, Conferences, and Symposiums
Operations Management
November, 1 2002


General Information about FDA Employee Who Attend, Participate in or Speak at Non-Federal Meetings, Conferences, and Symposiums

The Department of Health and Human Services is pleased to provide officials and employees to speak on FDA programs and policies and to participate in conferences, symposiums, and similar gatherings related to the programs and responsibilities of the Department. The following information is provided to assist sponsoring organizations in planning for participation by FDA officials and employees and to acquaint them with rules and regulations applicable to such participation by federal employees.

Honorariums and Gifts

Federal officials and employees who give speeches or participate in conferences in their official capacity are considered to be on duty for those purposes and are prohibited by federal law from accepting any fee, honorarium, gift or anything of monetary value in connection with their participation in the event. (However, they may accept a lunch or dinner that is held in conjunction with their participation in the event and they may accept a certificate or other token of appreciation directed to them personally.)

Where an official or employee is prohibited from accepting a fee, honorarium or other remuneration for his or her participation, the official or employee is also prohibited from designating a charity to receive the fee, honorarium or other remuneration. For the above reasons, and in order to prevent any misunderstanding or embarrassment in conjunction with the Department's participation in the event, please do not offer or provide any such fee or gift in conjunction with our speaker's participation in the event.

Payment of Travel Expenses by the Food and Drug Administration

Ordinarily, where it is deemed appropriate for official time to be used for an FDA official or employee to participate in an outside event, it is considered appropriate for the government to pay his or her travel expenses. Our regulations prohibit acceptance of any unapproved travel support, including free or subsidized hotel accommodations, meals, or airline tickets. As a result our employees may sometimes elect to stay in hotels separate from the primary meeting location, because of government limitations on hotel cost reimbursements. (If the accommodations chosen by our employee exceed amounts reimbursable under travel regulations, the employee is personally responsible for the difference in cost.) We appreciate your cooperation in assuring that your organization does not put our employees in a difficult situation by making unapproved contributions to the costs of travel or accommodations in any way.

Approval of Non-Federal Support for FDA Employee Travel

Although the Department has statutory authority to accept the payment of employees' travel expenses for outside organizations in connection with their attendance at meetings or in performing advisory services concerned with the functions or activities of the Department, employees are not allowed to solicit offers for such payments.

In limited circumstances, however, where an organization has initiated an offer to pay for the travel expenses of FDA's participation, such an offer may be accepted. If that is to be the case, please advise the speaker or participant well in advance of the arrangements that will be made, so that appropriate review of those arrangements can be made by FDA prior to the event.

Reimbursement for travel expenses will not be accepted if there is real or apparent conflict of interest between the traveler or FDA and the organizations offering to pay, if the reimbursement for travel expenses is to be made from funds received under any federal grant or a DHHS contract, or where any other circumstances exists that would bring into question the propriety of the traveler or FDA accepting such reimbursement.

HHS regulations prohibit acceptance of travel support in excess of expenses that would otherwise be covered by government travel regulations. To assure conformance with these regulations, FDA policy prohibits acceptance of in-kind travel support, such as hotel accommodations, meals, or airline tickets, except in unusual and well justified circumstances. Instead, FDA will routinely pay for all travel costs and subsequently bill the offerer. An organization volunteering to pay all or part of an employee's travel cost must assure that it does not put our employees in a difficult situation by contributing to the costs of accommodations in any way other that paying the bill we send upon completion of travel. Sometimes our employees may elect to stay in hotels separate from the primary meeting location, because of government limits on hotel cost reimbursement.

The foregoing information is provided not solicit such reimbursement, but merely to indicate clearly both the limited circumstances under which offers of reimbursement may be accepted, and the limitations on amounts that may be accepted to cover travel costs.

Spousal or Family Accompaniment

Where an official or employee of the Department is giving a speech or participating in an event as part of his or her official duties, he or she may not accept reimbursement from any outside source for the travel expenses of his or her spouse, family member, or associate. This prohibition applies whether the HHS official or employee is traveling at the expense of the government or at the expense of the sponsoring organization.

If you have any questions regarding any of the foregoing information, please contact the Food and Drug Administration, Division of Financial Management on 301-443-2884.

FMD 13

Distribution: Regional Food and Drug Directors and District Directors
  FDA Headquarters Offices
Issued by: ORA/ORO/Division of Field Investigations (HFC-130)
Authority: ORA
Publication Date: November 2002
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