2015.02 TB/HIV/STD Section Meeting Planning

Policy Number  2015.02
Effective Date  March 1, 2015
Revision Date  June 4, 2018
Subject Matter Expert Health Communication and Community Engagement Group
Approval Authority  TB/HIV/STD Section Director
Signed by  Felipe Rocha, M.S.S.W.

1.0 Purpose

This document establishes TB/HIV/STD Section policy on planning and hosting meetings, including meetings hosted through third-party vendors.

2.0 Definitions

Meeting – any conference, seminar, meeting, summit, symposium, orientation, training, etc.

Meeting Planner (MP) – employee responsible for planning the meeting agenda (content), identifying and inviting speakers, and working with the Section Meeting Coordinator on budgeting and logistics.

Third-Party Vendor – any contractor or subcontractor using agency funds to host meetings.

Section Meeting Coordinator (Section MC) – employee responsible for securing meeting planning vendors and providing guidance on meeting planning policy and procedure.

3.0 Purchasing Criteria

DSHS and its third party vendors must plan meetings in accordance with the criteria provided in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 1, Part 15, Chapter 391. This chapter provides general criteria to govern the purchase of goods and services by HHSC and its representatives that are efficient, economical, and achieve procurement objectives at the best value for the State of Texas.

4.0 Allowable Expenses

The following expenses are allowable:

  • Meeting Space Rental without food and beverage costs incorporated
  • Audiovisual Services and Equipment Rental
  • Travel, Lodging and Per Diem Expenses
  • Speaker Fees and Attendee Incentives
  • Printed or Photocopied Participant Materials/Handouts
  • Meeting Supplies (pens, notepads, badge holders, etc.)
  • Vendor Service Charges

5.0 Prohibited Expenses

The following expenses are prohibited:

  • Food and beverages, unless specifically allowed by the HHS Ethics Policy
  • Any fee that incorporates the cost of food and beverages
  • Gifts for Speakers or Attendees
  • Valet Parking (unless self-parking is not available and valet parking is the only available parking at the meeting site)
  • Tips
  • Hotel Guest Room Internet Connections
  • Limousine or Car Service
  • Alcohol or Alcohol-Related Expenses (such as bartender fees)
  • Incidental Hotel Expenses (room service fees, in-room movies, etc.)
  • Any other non-essential item not approved by the Associate Commissioner.

6.0 Meeting Space

Texas Government Code mandates that a state agency shall use state-owned or state-occupied facilities for meetings and may not use appropriated money to lease private facilities for meetings unless state facilities are not available when needed, are not adequate to accommodate the meeting or are not an economically favorable alternative to other facilities.

DSHS and its third-party vendors must document attempts to secure free meeting space prior to making the decision to rent meeting space. Third party vendors may request assistance from DSHS staff in doing so.

7.0 Maximum Lodging Rates

Currently, the DSHS maximum lodging rate without an approved exception is $85 per night. To exceed $85 or the approved lodging rate at the time of the meeting, the “Request to Increase Maximum Lodging Rate” form is required. The form is posted on the DSHS Travel Office Intranet.

Lodging reservations must be reserved and guaranteed by the individual meeting attendee. DSHS and its third party vendors are not permitted to pay for empty/unused guest rooms.

8.0 Travel Expenses

The following rules apply to reimbursed and direct-billed travel expenses:

  • Eligible expenses include lodging, per diem, travel (coach airfare, economy rental car, mileage, ground transportation, self-parking, road tolls).
  • Expenses may not exceed DSHS lodging, mileage and per diem rates at the time of the meeting.
  • Meeting attendees who live or work within 50 miles of the meeting site are not eligible for expense reimbursement or direct-billed expenses.
  • Original, itemized receipts are required for reimbursement.

9.0 Waiver/Release

If DSHS or its third-party vendors plan to photograph or record meeting proceedings, a signed release must be obtained from all participants prior to the meeting. Please contact the Section MC for a sample release form.

10.0 Attendee Incentives

Attendee incentives are fees paid to community members to encourage and secure their participation and input in the DSHS program planning process.

  • Attendee incentives may not exceed $100 per day, per attendee.
  • Attendee incentives must be approved by the Associate Commissioner.
  • Requests to pay attendee incentives must be submitted for approval to the Associate Commissioner no later than three weeks prior to the meeting. The request must include amount to be paid per attendee, number of incentives to be paid, and justification for payment.
  • DSHS and its contractors are prohibited from paying attendee incentives to local, state and federal government employees.
  • DSHS and its contractors are prohibited from paying attendee incentives to employees of any state contractor or subcontractor.

11.0 Procedures for DSHS Headquarters Staff

The MP and the Section MC must work together to:

  • Develop the draft meeting budget and specifications;
  • Determine the funding source and secure the funds for the meeting;
  • Obtain and document Section-level managerial approval to conduct the meeting (The initial approval request must include the draft budget, specifications, and justification, purpose or agenda.);
  • Ensure that meeting expenses are allowable and do not exceed the approved budget; and
  • Review and approve hotel event orders and invoices within five business days of receipt.

12.0 Exceptions

Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Associate Commissioner.

13.0 Revision History

Date Action Section
6/4/2018 Revisions to incorporate updated HHS Ethics Policy on food and beverage purchases. Addition of section on attendee incentives. All 
9/1/2017 Changed "TB/HIV/STD Unit" to "TB/HIV/STD Section" to reflect new program designation -
3/1/2015 New policy  All