Meetings and Conferences

Meetings and Conferences

A conference is defined as a meeting, retreat, seminar, symposium, workshop or event whose primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information beyond the non-Federal entity (e.g., University of Montana) and is necessary and reasonable for successful performance under the Federal award. (OMB Circular A-21 J.32, 2 CFR 200.432)

In addition to involving non-University personnel, conferences usually 1) include an agenda,  2) are held during standard working hours, and 3) are clearly identified in the proposed scope of work, budget, and budget narrative approved by the sponsor, or otherwise approved in writing by the sponsor. 


Conference costs are typically allowable. This includes costs of meals, transportation, rental of facilities, speakers' fees, and other reasonable items incidental to such meetings or conferences.  However, because meals/food are seldom allowable outside of conference/training grants, they must specifically be addressed in the budget and budget narrative or otherwise approved in writing.  During award management, the department must provide documentation for allowability via the Meeting/Conference/Job Candidate Expense Approval Form and include any invoices.  Allowability of gratuities is subject to institutional policy.  


Typically unallowable costs include those for 1) meetings to discuss, debrief, or otherwise work during mealtimes, and 2) meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of University of Montana employees or students.

Similarly, costs of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, and social activites and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities) are unallowable.  (2 CFR 200.438OMB Circular A-21 J.17)

Technical information

The University of  Montana defines "technical information" to include information such as: 

  • lab protocols;
  • experiment designs;
  • primary data review;
  • laboratory notebook management information;
  • raw data (e.g., blots, PCR, charts, read-outs);
  • project milestones;
  • safety training information;
  • instrument specification review; or,
  • discussion of draft publications or reprints.