B-245330, Dec 17, 1991, 71 Comp.Gen. 120

B-245330: Dec 17, 1991

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Is therefore permissible. The Director is concerned that payment of the fees violates the general prohibition against interagency financing of boards or commissions. Is therefore permissible. Or similar groups (whether or not they are interagency entities) which do not have a prior and specific statutory approval to receive financial support from more than one agency or instrumentality.". The restriction applies to Federal Executive Boards since the boards do not have statutory approval for interagency financing. 65 Comp.Gen. 689. As is the case here.

B-245330, Dec 17, 1991, 71 Comp.Gen. 120

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Appropriation Availability - Purpose availability - Specific purpose restriction - Training - Federal executive boards CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Training expenses - Federal executive boards The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may pay registration fees for its employees to attend a Federal Executive Board training seminar. The payment of a reasonable registration fee for a training seminar sponsored by a Federal Executive Board does not constitute interagency financing of a board or commission, and is therefore permissible.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-- Reimbursement of Registration Fees for Federal Executive Board Training Seminar:

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Director of Financial Management asks whether the EEOC may properly pay registration fees for a training seminar sponsored by a Federal Executive Board. The Director is concerned that payment of the fees violates the general prohibition against interagency financing of boards or commissions. As discussed below, payment of a reasonable registration fee for a training seminar sponsored by a Federal Executive Board does not constitute interagency financing of a board or commission, and is therefore permissible.

BACKGROUND

In June 1991, the Houston Federal Executive Board held an equal employment opportunity training seminar and charged each attendee a $20 registration fee. An imprest fund cashier at the EEOC advanced six employees $20 each to attend the seminar. The Director of the Financial Management Division questioned the expenditure and suspended reimbursement of the imprest fund pending our decision.

DISCUSSION

Section 608 of the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act, 1991 provides as follows:

"No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be available for interagency financing of boards, commissions, councils, committees, or similar groups (whether or not they are interagency entities) which do not have a prior and specific statutory approval to receive financial support from more than one agency or instrumentality."

Pub.L. No. 101-509, Sec. 608, 104 Stat. 1389, 1473 (1990).

Congress has enacted this provision in its current form for each fiscal year since 1982 to prohibit interagency funding of boards or similar entities. See 67 Comp.Gen. 254 (1988); 67 Comp.Gen. 27 (1987). The restriction applies to Federal Executive Boards since the boards do not have statutory approval for interagency financing. 65 Comp.Gen. 689, 690 (1986). Thus, agencies may not join with other agencies to provide financial support for a Federal Executive Board function or to provide administrative assistance to the Board itself. 67 Comp.Gen. at 30.

Generally, the restriction prohibits agencies from making voluntary contributions or payments in support of interagency ventures. See 67 Comp.Gen. 254; 67 Comp.Gen. 27. It does not, however, prohibit an agency from paying a registration fee to permit an employee to attend a Federal Executive Board sponsored EEO training seminar if, as is the case here, the fee appears to reasonable and accurately reflect the cost incurred by the Board for the employee to attend the seminar. So long as payment of such a fee directly benefits the agency making the payment and the fee does not include an element designed to capture more than the costs of sponsoring the seminar, we would not view the expenditures at hand as interagency financing. Cf. B-219795, Sept. 29, 1986 (denying payment of a claim for a portion of the expenses incurred by a Federal Executive Board in sponsoring an awards banquet).

Consistent with this view, we recently allowed the Department of the Interior to reimburse its employees, under the Incentive Awards Act, for a fee charged to attend a regional awards ceremony sponsored by a local Federal Executive Board. B-236040, Oct. 9, 1990. Likewise, here, we would not object to EEOC reimbursing its imprest fund for the cost of the registration fees as authorized by 5 U.S.C. Sec. 4109 (1988).