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S. 1347 (113th): Conference Accountability Act of 2014

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Oct 1, 2014.

Conference Accountability Act of 2014 - Prohibits a federal agency from paying the travel expenses for more than 50 employees stationed in the United States to attend any conference (defined as a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, or event that involves attendee travel) occurring outside the United States, unless the Deputy Secretary and the Chief Financial Officer of the agency submits to Congress before the conference a written certification that attendance for such employees is in the national interest.

Requires each agency to post on its public website, for five years, quarterly reports, in a searchable electronic format, on each conference that was held during the preceding three months for which the agency paid more than $50,000. Requires each report to include:

the itemized expenses paid by the agency, including travel expenses, the cost of scouting for and selecting the location of the conference, and any agency expenditures to otherwise support the conference; the primary sponsor, location, and dates of the conference; for conferences for which the agency was the primary sponsor, a statement that justifies the location selected, demonstrates the cost efficiency of the location, and provides a cost benefit analysis of holding a conference as opposed to conducting a teleconference or other means of remote communication; an explanation of how the conference advanced the mission of the agency; the pay grade of any federal employee or other individual whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency; the total number of individuals whose travel expenses or other conference expenses were paid by the agency; detailed information on any presentation made by a federal employee at the conference; and information on any financial support or other assistance from a foundation or other non-federal source used to pay or defray the costs of the conference, with a certification that such assistance posed no conflict of interest. Exempts from such reporting requirement: (1) information on travel or conference expenses involving military combat, the training or deployment of members of the Armed Forces, or other similar expenses; or (2) scientific or medical research presented by a federal employee at a conference that was previously unpublished.

Authorizes an agency head to exclude information, expenses, and materials from a report on its conferences only if the agency head determines that the inclusion of such information would undermine national security, international diplomacy, health and safety inspections, law enforcement, or site visits required for oversight or investigatory purposes.

Prohibits any agency from paying more than $500,000 to support a single conference unless the head of the agency and its Chief Financial Officer submits to Congress, before the conference, a written certification that the conference is in the national interest. Requires such certification to include: (1) an estimate of the total cost of the conference, (2) the dates of the conference, (3) an estimate of the number of full-time agency employees attending the conference, (4) any costs associated with planning for the conference, and (5) an explanation of how the conference advances the mission of the agency.

Prohibits an agency from establishing or implementing a policy that discourages or prohibits the selection of a location for travel, an event, a meeting, or a conference because the location is perceived to be a resort or vacation destination.