Support for Meetings and Conferences

Meetings, conferences, workshops, seminars, grand rounds, town halls, symposia, and other similar meetings are all accepted features of conducting research and education. Additionally, certain events, such as retreats and board meetings as well as fundraising and public relations, are necessary for the conduct of business. Meals and refreshments may be considered for support only if they are incidental to the business purpose of such meetings.

Various laws and regulations, the federal ethics standards and the statute that authorizes VBRI control the extent to which expenditures related to such events are appropriate for VBRI support. Consequently, in order for such costs to be considered for direct payment or reimbursement by VBRI, the following policy has been established.

  1. In order to be eligible for VBRI support, a meeting must have a documented research, education or VBRI business purpose. VBRI will not support “entertainment” expenses such as social activities, parties, ceremonial occasions or those that provide amusement.
    1. For a research related meeting: A request for VBRI support must include an explicit statement about the research rationale for the event; that is, its research related purpose and how it will further VA research. Accompanying documentation should include the program, agenda or topic of discussion, and a roster of attendees. When appropriate, the request should tie the meeting to an approved research project.
    2. For an educational program not related to research: The education activity itself must first be approved by the VA New Jersey Health Care System Education Council (EC). Documentation should include an explicit statement of the purpose and how the program will further the VA’s education and training mission. See VBRI website at www.VBRI.org for the education approval request form to submit for Education Committee review.
    3. For other VBRI business events: A request must include an explicit statement of how the meeting will further VBRI’s ability to facilitate research and education. Appropriate events include, but are not limited to, retreats, board meetings, annual membership meetings and investigator meetings, as well as fundraising and public relations events. Documentation should include the purpose, agenda, program or topic of discussion, and a roster of attendees.
  2. The types of meetings that may be eligible for VBRI support are too numerous to list and the characteristics of appropriate meetings may vary. However, factors that VBRI will consider when evaluating a meeting for support include:
    1. Whether at least one speaker makes a research presentation or presents educational instruction.
    2. Whether there is a non-VA and or non-VANJHCS speaker and/or non-VA or non-VANJHCS personnel are among the expected attendees.
    3. The frequency of similar meetings that may involve the same personnel. Irregularly scheduled meetings may be eligible for support; monthly meetings will not.
    4. Whether the meeting involves at least one individual who is being recruited to conduct research or education at the PSHCS.
    5. Whether the meeting lasts more than two hours or extends through a normal mealtime. Regardless of the type of meeting, the documentation required in #1 above is a prerequisite for VBRI support.
  3. Requests for VBRI support will be reviewed and approved by the individual designated by the board, generally the Executive Director or the Executive Director’s designee. VBRI will provide direct payment for reasonable meeting costs, or reimbursement based on submission of original receipts. In the event of disagreement, the request may be referred to a designated member of the Board of Trustees or to the full Board as appropriate.
  4. VBRI encourages meeting organizers to obtain pre-approval of VBRI support for meetings. Such approval is not mandatory, but events lacking pre-approval may be denied support or may receive only partial support. For meetings of significant size or cost, prior discussion and authorization by VBRI management is highly recommended.

Additional Factors for Meetings and Conferences

  1. Actual, reasonable costs will qualify for reimbursement.
  2. Credit card statements or receipts are not acceptable. An itemized receipt will be necessary for reimbursement.
  3. VBRI does not pay for alcoholic beverages.
  4. Refreshments may be paid as part of a non-routine research or education meeting if incidental to the meeting. VBRI will not pay for refreshments for regular staff meetings.
  5. Lunch and/or dinner expenses for a meeting with only VA staff cannot be reimbursed.
  6. Please note that luncheon or dinner meetings with invited speakers may be an appropriate expense for reimbursement through VBRI. However, such an event should be reviewed prior to the event to make sure it is eligible for reimbursement.

Guest Lecturer Information

When investigators are providing honoraria, speaker fees, or travel reimbursement to invited guest lecturers, the following apply:

  1. Check Request must include the Social Security or Tax Identification Number and the address of the guest lecturer.
  2. Sufficient credentials should be provided to show the expertise of the speaker as the basis for providing an honorarium. For example, part or all of the speaker’s CV.
  3. If the speaker is a VA employee, the decision tree following and on the VBRI web site should be filled out and provided to VBRI before honorarium can be paid.
  4. If the invited speaker is a non-resident alien VBRI must be advised in advance in order to determine if an honorarium can be provided. VBRI will also need to withhold taxes on such a payment.
  5. VBRI must file IRS 1099 Misc forms for speaker fees and honoraria payments totaling $600 or more in a single tax year.
  6. The payment of travel expenses associated with this category follows the same policy as for general travel by investigators (see TRAVEL).

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