The Interface Symposium is intended as the major professional meeting on the interface of computing and statistics. It is also intended to be a revenue producing activity of the Interface Foundation. The two major players in the meeting are the program chair and the headquarters office in Virginia. Generally speaking, the program chair will have responsibility for: 1) establishing a program committee and setting the technical program, 2) locating the hotel and making local arrangements with the hotel, 3) writing the publicity brochures, 4) preparing the technical content of proposals to the funding agencies, and 5) receiving completed manuscripts for the proceedings. Generally speaking the headquarters office will have responsibility for: 1) preparing, printing and mailing both the first and second publicity mailings, 2) finalizing and submitting proposals to research agencies and 3) preparing camera ready copy, printing and distributing the Interface proceedings, 4) handling legal reports and tax reports, 5) paying bills for Interface.
Interface Foundation of North America, Inc.
P. O. Box 7460
Fairfax Station, VA 22039-7460.
You can send stuff to Ed at George Mason, but do not put Interface anywhere in the address. It just confuses the mail room. Our GMU address is
Professor Edward J. Wegman
Center for Computational Statistics
George Mason University, MS 4A7
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030.
Of course, Federal Express and the like must come to the latter address since the post office will not accept that sort of delivery.
The Program Chair should establish his or her program committee as soon as practical. Generally the Interface Symposium occurs in the spring of a given year, e.g. spring 1993. The chair of the next meeting, e.g. 1994, should have the committee in place by no later than the summer of the year prior to his or her meeting, e.g. summer 1993 in the example case. Typically the program would contain around 60 invited speakers arranged in 20 or so invited paper sessions. Each member of the program committee would normally organize one or two sessions. There is usually a plenary session with an especially distinguished speaker. There may also be one to three special invited sessions with only one speaker each. Except for the plenary session, all sessions are scheduled in parallel. See more on the meeting below.
The committee should be selected with a theme in mind. Recent themes have included: 1) Computationally Intensive Statistical Methods, 2) Statistical Software and the Human Interface, 3) Statistics of Many Parameters: Curves, Images, Spatial Models, 4) Critical Applications of Scientific Computing: Biology, Engineering, Medicine, Speech,..., 5) Graphics and Visualization and 5) Statistical Applications and Expanding Computer Technology. Themes are valuable because they attract attendees who might not otherwise come and they provide a hook to attract funding from the federal agencies as well as from commercial concerns. The theme should be determined early. Consultation with headquarters is strongly encouraged so as to maximize the potential for funding. A careful turn of phrase consistent with current programs at the research funding agencies can make a difference as to whether or not a proposal is funded. The theme should be determined by the Spring meeting before the Program Chair's meeting, e.g. in Spring, 1993 for a Spring, 1994 meeting.
The hotel is the biggest expense of the meeting and hence the biggest potential problem. Generally, hotels make their meeting revenue by selling food service.
Food Service: Normally we have the following food events: 1) opening night reception for attendees, 2) dinner for Board of Directors, 3) refreshment breaks in morning and afternoon of each day talks are scheduled, and 4) a banquet. Lunches are not usually necessary and usually are a loss for Interface. The exception is when the hotel is isolated and there are no nearby restaurants. The hotels generally overestimate food needs (this is what they are selling). For opening night banquet, plan for about half the expected registration which is usually about the same as the preregistration. Tripling the number of contributed talks is a good guideline for overall registration, e.g. 100 contributed talks => 300 registered attendees. The Interface Secretary can usually supply a pretty good estimate for the number of people at the dinner for the Board of Directors. Estimate about ½ the attendees will take stuff during the breaks. Many won't attend the sessions and others just won't snack. Typically 10 oz. cokes are $1.50, a single cookie often $1. These are expensive. The banquet is usually included in the registration fee so that a fairly accurate count is easy to make. On-site registrations may amount to 40% to 50% of total registrations and the hotel may require a head count before registration is effectively ended so that some estimation may be required. A slight underestimate is OK since many people do not come even though they have paid for the banquet. Usually the hotel can cover about 10% additional anyway. Food service and related hotel costs will normally about $25,000. More than $35,000 may be excessive.
We do want our food events to be high quality, attractive affairs. Do not try and save money by reducing quality of food served, i.e. pretzels and peanuts in place of hot hors d'oeuvres, rather the message is to be careful about quantity.
Rooms: The breakout rooms are normally complementary with the food service and sleeping room guarantees. This is what you should expect and negotiate toward. Typically there will be three simultaneous invited sessions and three simultaneous contributed sessions. There is also normally a exhibit area. These should all come with the food service and room guarantees and should not require any additional costs. In addition, most hotels give one complementary sleeping room for every 50 rooms rented. Complementary (comp) rooms can be given to plenary and special invited speakers to offset direct room costs to Interface. Comp rooms should not be given to Interface officers or Board members (this amounts to compensation and causes tax problems). Most hotels will want you to guarantee a minimal room rental. 150 rooms is fairly safe, 200 is problematic. This may figure in to the cost of breakout rooms. As a guideline, about 60% of attendees will stay in the conference hotel. If there are serious departures from these guidelines, talk it over with headquarters.
Audio-Visual: Audio-Visual is normally handled by a company other than the hotel, but often housed in and arranged for by the hotel. This is a separate charge and should run around $5,000 or so. The charge is per day and per item so that scheduling all the sessions that require expensive equipment like video projection equipment on the same is desirable. Most rooms require only overheads. Chalkboards are generally not necessary. The program chair should canvass speakers to determine their requirements at least a month earlier than the meeting. Last minute requirements are expensive to accommodate and equipment sometimes impossible to find.
Exhibits: Exhibits can be both a real service to the attendees and a money maker for Interface. The arrangements with potential exhibitors must be done early, most should be in place three months before the meeting. Exhibitors often have to build their exhibition plans into their budget before the beginning of the fiscal year, which for many is 1 July or 1 October. Thus asking in December or January may be too late. Typically a straight minimal booth would be a six foot table in an eight or ten foot space and should be sold for say $400 to $500. Many organizations will want double booths. Pipe and drape is a service usually sold separately by the hotel (or by contractors) and may not be needed. Telephones are sometime required by the exhibitors and that should be left as their responsibility. The hotel will give you an address and a timeline for exhibitors to ship materials, usually a few days before the meeting. Be sure to ask. We have a partial list of past exhibitors available electronically and many are listed in past Interface proceedings. However, especially for computer and hardware vendors, exhibits would be in the hands of a local or regional sales office. Book companies and software vendors tend to be organized nationally. Typically, Interface can make between $2500 to $7000 on exhibits.
Professional Society Announcements: The initial announcements are made to professional societies like the American Statistical Association, the Institute for Mathematical Statistics, ISI (specifically, the International Association for Statistical Computing), the IEEE, the ACM, the Operations Research Society of America, the American Mathematical Society, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and similar organizations. They should agree to publish announcements in their newsletters. This should happen early as soon as dates are firmed up.
First Announcement Mailing: The first announcement and call for papers should hit the streets in October (for an April meeting). We have been very late recently, an undesirable trend. Samples are attached. All that is really needed is the text, although many program chairs like to design the brochure. This should give information on the location, time, program committee, hotel arrangements, special events, availability of student grants, airline and car rental agreements (if any), etc. Headquarters arranges for mailing labels, printing, attaching labels, and postage. Printing takes about 1 week on a rush order; the whole process about 2 ½ to 3 weeks. We typically buy labels from ASA. We use ASA Statistical Graphics Section, Statistical Computing Section and all zipcodes in the state where the meeting is being held. SIAM and IMS donate labels. We also use labels from the Interface database which is maintained at headquarters. The Interface database has about 1700 names. We mail around 20,000 items in the first mailing.
Second Mailing Announcement: The second mailing should hit the streets just after the Christmas break for an April meeting. It should contain the schedule for the invited paper sessions as well as repeating most of the information listed for the first mailing. It is important to have the final program in order attract participants. This is an important mailing. It goes to the same ASA list, often either the SIAM or the IMS list, but not usually both, and the Interface mailing list. It is usually a larger brochure (sample attached) but usually smaller distribution, 14,000 or so.
Other Stuff: Other forms of publicity are helpful. Some program chairs have taken ads out while others have produced posters, balloons, pens, pencils, etc. Ads in Amstat News, SIAM News, and the like may be effective. Talk it over with headquarters if you are contemplating this. Also a summer mailing of posters may be good. Talk it over also.
Cooperating Societies: We have had a long-standing arrangement with several professional organizations who are listed as cooperating societies. They give free publicity or other services in return for reduced rates for their members and the privilege of appointing a member to the program committee. The current standing agreements are with 1) ASA, 2) IMS, 3) SIAM, 4) INFORMS and 5) IASC. Also ASA Section on Statistical Graphics and ASA Section on Statistical Computing are cooperating sections. IEEE and ACM are negotiated on an annual basis and pose many obstacles to cooperating status. The program chair may undertake to fill out the paperwork necessary.
The major funding agencies have been very good to Interface: these include NSF, ONR, ARO, NSA and EPA. NSF has funded Interface as high as $35,000 for a Interface Symposium combined with a Workshop on Computational Biology. AFOSR has been uneven, but they have occasionally contributed to the cause. EPA is a new player and their continued support is unclear. Nevertheless, it is worth pursuing agency support.
Concerns: Our proposal submissions have been late to very late recently. We have tested the patience of the funding agencies and we paid the price in 1993. We must make a concerted effort to be earlier. The federal fiscal year begins 1 October. In order the agencies to plan for their fiscal year expenditures, it is not too early for us to have a proposal in by July. Another concern is that there has been some indication that DoD agencies are prohibited from funding professional societies. This has yet to fully play out. Although Interface is not currently a professional society, it is very close in some ways and some program officers are not differentiating between Interface and organizations like ASA and IEEE.
Proposal Technical Content: The proposal must contain the theme and general invited program areas as well as the name and affiliation of the plenary speaker. The program committee should also be listed and if any other speakers are known, they along with their topic should be listed. The remainder of the proposal is pretty standard and contains information about the time, place, etc. of the meeting. Special features should be highlighted, e.g. related workshops or meetings, specials sessions, short courses. A sample proposal is attached. The program chair really only needs to submit the main text, the rest is handled from headquarters
Budget: The NSF has routinely insisted that money be used for travel dollars, primarily for graduate students and young faculty. This has been done. ONR, NSA, ARO and AFOSR have been less restrictive, but categories have been pretty much limited to a bit of clerical support, publicity (mailing, printing), some limited classes of meeting support (audiovisual, but never food or entertainment) and some proceedings costs. Total requested budgets tend to run around $35,000 shared by five agencies. The submitting organization is the Interface Foundation of North America, Inc. The Program Chair is listed as the principal investigator and Interface Treasurer is listed as the financial officer. Financial controls and overall budget resolution are the financial officer's responsibility. Normally, the program chair makes commitments for travel reimbursements. We have routinely added a 10% overhead charge which is usually honored by most agencies with the exception of NSF. Unlike most universities, we have no negotiated federal overhead rates presently.
Submissions: Submissions are made from Interface headquarters. Signature sheets, and final proposal documents are assembled in headquarters. This is convenient since headquarters is physically close to most of the funding agencies. Budget sheets need to be endorsed by the treasurer. Front cover by the principal investigator and the treasurer. NSA has recently suggested we submit multi-year proposals.
Submission Date: July before the meeting.
The meeting will be a time of great tension for the program chair. This is probably inevitable and should be regarded as a normal state of events. It is also when all the hard work comes together. This will be your meeting so enjoy it.
Programs: The program chair will normally arrange for handouts at the registration desk. The handout should consist of a program and a book of abstracts which may be combined. Most meetings have been between 300 to 400 participants. The "3-times-contributed-paper" rule is a good guess at how many handouts to prepare. It is better to be a little extravagant at preparing handouts since preparing additional ones on site is very expensive. Often included in the handout is a restaurant guide, local maps, map of the hotel, health and athletic information, a pad of paper, a folder and a sharpened pencil or pen. The folder and pen or pencil may be customized for the Interface Meeting. Bear in mind that Interface and Interface '9x are trademarks of IFNA and should be so noted.
Registration: The program chair should arrange for one or two people to attend to the registration desk. In recent times, two staff people from Interface headquarters have come also. Three or four people are pretty much sufficient to handle the registration. All attendees are expected to pay registration fees including Interface officers, members of the Interface Board of Directors and invited speakers. It is better to reimburse someone rather than waive their payment since grant monies can be used to reimburse people. Registration should normally include the banquet. Current fees have been set at about $150 to $165. Often an early discounted fee is charged which is $20 cheaper, i.e. $130 to $145. Also a discounted fee is charged to members of the cooperating societies. Never refer to the higher rate as a "late fee," but rather the earlier one as a "discounted fee." Interface does not currently accept charge cards. Cash and checks are OK.
Accounts: The financial aspects of Interface are handled by Interface headquarters. Any check that may come to the Program Chair should be forwarded to Interface Headquarters. All invoices and bills should also be promptly forwarded to the Interface headquarters.
Insurance: The Interface Foundation of North America, Inc. maintains a $1,000,000 liability policy for the meeting. Normally in addition the hotel would have liability insurance. Thus if anyone is injured during the course of the meeting Interface and the Program Chair should be indemnified. Also, most employers, especially universities, would carry liability insurance for their employees as part of their professional activities.
Contributed Papers: Contributed papers sometimes get overlooked or regarded as less important. However, Program Chairs are strongly encouraged to regard the contributed program as a key part of the meeting for several reasons. Often, new directions or ideas first show up in the contributed program and hence as a service to our participants they are important. In addition, contributed papers are a vehicle for lots of participants to come to the meeting. Finally and linked to the prior idea, since we offer contributed papers a publication outlet in the Interface Proceedings, now called Computing Science and Statistics , there is a strong incentive for people to come and hence create a revenue stream for Interface. Contributed sessions should be scheduled against invited sessions and other contributed sessions, except not against the Plenary session. Contributed talks should be scheduled for about 20 minutes each (15 if there are many papers). It is highly advisable to organize contributed papers into theme-oriented contributed sessions. It should go without saying that the three invited paper sessions during a given time slot should be organized so as to be as orthogonal in content as possible. The contributed papers during the same time slot should also have as little overlap with each other and with the invited sessions as possible. Both contributed and invited speakers should be notified well before the meeting as to when they are expected to speak.
Other Activities: Short courses and workshops either before or after the meeting are possibilities. These are up to the program chair to organize. We have had a number of very successful collateral activities of this sort. They are to be encouraged. Talk with headquarters if you have an idea you'd like to pursue.
Registration Forms and Reimbursements: Since we distribute the Interface Proceedings, Computing Science and Statistics , after the meeting it is very important to keep a record of name, address, phone and email for the Interface participants. It is also handy to keep a record of what the registrant paid in case there is later a request for refund. Most will need a receipt in order to get reimbursed from their employer also. The Interface database is a MS Access file. It would be handy but not necessary to keep records in this form. If interested, headquarters can supply the format we use. A sample registration form is attached. Do not waive registration fees for your students, your buddies, or the Interface officers. It is better to reimburse someone than waive a registration fee. In cases where this has been done in the past, we have had indignant individuals who paid nothing call us up in headquarters asking where is their copy of the Interface Proceedings. Interface officers and directors are not supposed to be compensated and free registration is compensation.
One of the most goofed aspects of the Interface business has been travel and expense reimbursement to individuals. The policy is unequivocal but not inflexible. Well established or well-funded members of the computing science and statistics community are expected to pay their own way. Occasionally, it is desirable for programmatic reasons to have someone from outside of this community to speak. The Program Chair has limited discretion to commit funds for travel and expenses for this purpose. Usually the plenary speaker is compensated for his or her expenses. The major funding from the agencies is directed toward young people, either graduate students or new Ph.D.'s who would otherwise be unable or unlikely to attend. The point is to build the attendance by building the loyalty of the young crowd who are up and coming. It is particularly desirable to fund U. S. citizens, women and minorities. These groups should be given highest priorities. Please respect the intent of this funding policy.
The Program Chair has the authority to commit this funding to applicants. Normally the potential participants are invited to submit an application for travel funds and expense reimbursements. The Program Chair should commit to a fixed dollar level of funding which is some fraction (less than 1.0) of the funding the participant actually needs. Keep a record of what you obligate. Check with headquarters on what is a safe level to commit to. When we reimburse, the participant with a travel award will have to submit an application form (attached) with receipts. We require original receipts . We have been doing reimbursements for five years now, and the range of attempted abuse is amazing. The most common is to attempt to get reimbursed from both Interface and the home institution. We are often given travel itinerary sheets, photocopies of car rental agreements, charge slips, etc. that are simply unacceptable. We have been billed $160 for one dinner (the individual, a young woman, insisted that this was her meal alone), we have been sent the airline tickets of boyfriends or girlfriends, we were sent lunchtime meal receipts from Disney World when the meeting was in Orlando and we were once billed in American dollars for a ticket purchased in Canadian dollars. We limit reimbursement to the levels authorized for state employees in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We do not pay for expenses with no receipts. (This means in order for us to reimburse registration fees, the participant with a travel award must have an original receipt.) We (Interface and the headquarters staff) are stewards of federal grant monies and we take this stewardship seriously. We also need social security numbers . We like to make these reimbursements for travel rather than honoraria. The latter is taxable and we must prepare IRS 1099 forms. This is to be avoided.
Compensation: The Interface, as with other professional organizations such as ASA and IMS, does not compensate Program Chairs; indeed, all officers of Interface serve without compensation. It is expected that such activity is treated by home institutions as pro bono service to the profession. Likewise, the clerical help associated with the planning and development phase of the Interface Symposium is normally covered within the framework of the host institution's professional service activities. However, staff time associated with the actual direct running of the conference, e.g. activities at the registration desk, are usually billed to Interface. This is usually under $1500 and is normally covered by grants from federal agencies. Similarly, if the meeting site is not in the same location as the home institution site, travel expenses for clerical people are normally covered by Interface. Under unusual circumstances, travel for the Program Chair might be covered, although the usual policy for officers and Members of the Board of Directors is that they are expected to cover their own travel expenses from their home institutions professional travel budget or from research grants.
The Proceedings as has been mentioned above has been retitled as simply Computing Science and Statistics . This is a very crucial part of the Interface Symposium. Both the invited and contributed authors should be encouraged to submit papers. Invited papers are usually limited to 10 pages and contributeds are normally about four pages. A sample instruction sheet is attached. The authors should be given the instruction sheet even before the meeting and should be encouraged to submit their manuscript as soon as possible. It is tempting to wait for just a few more high profile authors as the deadline approaches. We have done this a lot in recent years and the production of the proceedings has slipped to embarrassingly late dates. Hold to the timeline given above. We will miss a few papers, but if we hold to the timeline so will the authors. If they know we will slip it, they will miss it.
The Program Chair or the individual designated by the Chair becomes the editor of the volume. The editor assembles the camera-ready manuscripts from the authors, arranges the manuscripts in some logical order, prepares the front matter (which includes editor's preface, table of contents, program listing, often a list of exhibitors, and a listing of the availability of earlier volumes), and prepares the author index and usually a list of attendees. The editor usually prepares running heads and paginates the material. The editor then makes a high quality photocopy and ships the original to Interface headquarters. The photocopy is for the obvious reason: to protect against loss. At headquarters, we function as the production editor. We check for consistency, legibility and reproducibility. We work with the printer on cover design, we check page proofs and all art proofs and we arrange for printing and distribution. We contract with a local company to make custom boxes. Packing, labeling and shipping is done by graduate students and staff at George Mason University. Mailing is done also from Interface Headquarters at George Mason.
The other officers are the President, the Secretary, the Chairman of the Board and the Treasurer. This group constitutes the leadership of Interface, particularly the first three. It is their job corporately to arrange for Board meetings, to propose a slate of candidates for the Board and for the officers, to proactively seek out new Program Chairs, to suggest themes for the Interface and to suggest sites for the Interface meetings. For the record, the official titles of the officers are those listed above; it is inappropriate to use titles like CEO and COO.
The Board of Directors Meetings: The Chairman of the Board and the Secretary together solicit and put together the agenda for the next Interface Board meeting. The Board normally meets twice a year (and is required by Virginia law to meet at least once a year). There is always a Board meeting during the Interface meeting itself and also one normally held during the annual ASA meeting although this is not required. The Chairman conducts the Board meeting which is the Chairman's primary statutory responsibility. The Secretary distributes the agenda prior to the meeting and records and distributes the minutes after the meeting. Complete corporate records are retained in the headquarters office which includes the official minutes of the Interface Board of Directors meetings. The Board of Directors is the decision making body of the Interface.
Because of oddities in Virginia law, the Board of Directors and the officers must be elected every year. Members of the Board of Directors join the Board by two routes: 1) by serving as Program Chair and 2) by being elected at large. Members in the first category serve for five years, officially joining the Board the year before the meeting they chair, e.g. the 199(x+1) Program Chair is elected in 199x. The Chairman of the Board, the President and the Secretary serve staggered three year terms. Elections are held in the Spring meeting and at any given meeting one at large Board member, the Program Chair (Board Member) and one officer are newly elected. The remaining Board Members and officers whose terms have not expired are automatically re-elected. The officers are elected from among the Board Members. The Board must be elected first, then the officers.
All past Members of the Board are ex-officio Members of the Board. They have the right to participate in the meetings, but, of course, not the right to vote. They should be notified of the time and place of the Board meeting. Prospective candidates for Program Chair are usually invited to give a short presentation and are guests at the Board meeting. Since the Board meeting is normally accompanied by a dinner, the Secretary needs to ascertain attendance in order to accurately estimate food requirements.
Slate of Candidates: The Board has usually operated by consensus. The leadership must undertake to provide a slate of candidates for the upcoming meeting in order to assure that there are at least some officer, Program Chair and Board Member candidates. Others may be nominated from the floor. The President would normally initiate this process which can be done by phone and/or email. The President, Chairman of the Board and Secretary would normally nominate the slate by consensus. If there were disagreements, a floor nomination could be used to present a minority opinion.The slate of candidates should be in place at least a month before the meeting and should be available for distribution along with the agenda. We have not done things this organized a way in the past, but we should do better in the future.
Program Chair: We ask a lot of the Program Chair and we need to line up good candidates well ahead of time. We normally wish the candidate Program Chair to be physically located in the proposed site of the meeting, although this is not always the case. It is also the case that we need someone with good organizational skills and a level of professional prominence that will allow the Program Chair to develop a solid program committee, an attractive Plenary Speaker and an interesting program. Individuals with such credentials are comparatively difficult to find so that all officers should be alert to interest and opportunity. The Program Chair is elected to Board Membership the year before his or her meeting, but should ideally be identified two years or more before his or her meeting.
Themes: Themes have been a fixture of Interface Symposia since 1988. They focus the meeting and provide a hook for the funding agencies. The leadership should be alert to new themes, particularly those which can be matched to interests of the funding agencies or those which have broad scientific appeal.
Symposia Sites: This is an interesting game. The attendance at Interface ranges between 300 and 400 nominally. This is a great size since it is sufficiently small to promote real interaction. It also means there is considerable flexibility in finding hotels and interesting locations. Two principal factors seem to promote attendance: 1) interesting technical program and 2) interesting tourist city. The two best attended meetings in recent times were 1) the 1988 Washington, DC meeting which was timed to coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival and 2) the Seattle, WA meeting. Both had strong programs and attendance somewhat over 400. It is desirable to choose interesting locations all other things being equal.
The Interface Symposium has been held in Canada. We have proposals on the table to hold meetings in Ireland and in Australia. Overseas venues may be considered, but the Interface is primarily a North American activity.
Trademarks: The Interface Foundation of North America, Inc. is a nonprofit educational scientific corporation currently classified for tax purposes as a 501©6 corporation. All officers including Program Chairs and Board Members should realize that the following items are trademarks of the corporation: 1) Interface, 2) Interface '9x, 3) Computing Science and Statistics and 4) the triangular logo. Several years ago a company called the Interface Group, Inc. registered "Interface '9x" as a registered trademark. They put on trade shows about computer networking but seem to have ceased doing business under the Interface logo. The Interface Foundation of North America, Inc. while it does not have these items as registered trademarks, does have a prior history of using these names. Thus by common law, we have a right to use them. For protection of our rights it is best to issue a trademark notice every time we use these corporate symbols.
Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics: The Interface Foundation owns a 1/5 share of this Journal. The ASA and the IMS each own a 2/5 share. The journal is managed by a management committee which has 5 members, 1 from Interface and 2 from each of the other partners. The leadership of Interface should plan to nominate candidates to represent Interface on the management committee one of which the Board of Directors will elect. Since the other two organizations are already particularly well represented, the Interface member must be committed to the best interests of the Interface as distinct from those of the other organizations
CAGE Code 0KRY9
1. We have traditionally not waived payments of registration fees to attendees, even attendees who have been paid travel expenses. The reason for this is simple, federal grants are given mostly for travel expenses. Registration fees are legitimate travel expenses. Thus if someone pays a registration fee and is reimbursed for that registration fee, the registration fee is direct income to Interface. There may appear to be no net difference to Interface in the sense that grant money and direct income offset each other. However, grant money can be used for very limited purposes and direct income for a much broader range of purposes. Moreover, grant money not used for allocated purposes must be returned to the funding agency. Thus, by waiving a legitmate source of direct income, we potentially lose overall income.
There has occasionally been a slight variation of the "waived payments." In particular, payments were "deferred" until time of reimbursement for travel from Interface. This is not a legitmate ploy. What has been done is to simply subtract the "deferred payment" from the amount of reimbursement. However, since no money actually ever came in for these registration fees and the amount of the reimbursement check never reflected reimbursement for the registration fees, the net effect was to have waived the registration fees. We cannot bill the funding agencies for expenses not actually incurred and since the reimbursement expense for registration fees was not actually incurred, we have lost this income.
2. No offers of travel expenses should be made to federal government personnel. In most cases, their conflict of interest regulations make it illegal for them to accept reimbursements. Again this time, I had someone request a reimbursement based on a photocopy of a government purchased airline ticket. In any case, even when it is not illegal, it is usually not necessary since the government will usually pay for the ticket anyway.
3. While not illegal, deep pockets organizations such as Bell Labs and Belcore and some research universities can better afford travel expenses that IFNA. Grant money from the federal agencies is not designed to supplement corporations and well-funded research groups. Also while it was not a problem this time, remember that IFNA officers and members of the Board of Directors are not eligible for travel money from IFNA. If they are reimbursed for expenses, then this in essence becomes income and causes reporting tax reporting problems. Also it is not the policy of Interface to offer honoraria. These are not "travel expenses" and thus must be paid from direct income. Moreover, we must then issue 1099's.
4. No foreign travel for students!!! I have failed to articulate this guideline before. The federal agencies fund travel for U.S.-based young people. The intent is to enhance the research posture of U.S. residents. Funding students in foreign countries could cost us grants in the future. In general, foreign travel is disliked by the funding agencies and requires prior approval. It should be minimized except for particularly distinguished foreign scientists such as the Keynote Speaker.