4.2 General Reimbursement Procedures and Documentation Requirements
4.2.1 General Provisions
General reimbursement requirements and required documentation for travel expenses are included in Section 7 of the Statewide Travel Policy. See Section 4.9 of this BPM section for a link to USG’s Standard Travel Expense Statement (Utilized by institutions that do not use an electronic travel expense system). Institutions are authorized to modify the standard form without prior approval by USG; however, any revised form must include all required elements as in original form.
Employees should submit travel within 45 calendar days after completion of the trip or event. Expenses submitted more than 60 calendar days after completion of the trip or event, if reimbursed, are taxable income per the IRS.
Institutions should encourage employees to enroll in direct deposit to reduce the overall cost and processing time of an expense reimbursement request.
The following sections, Sections 4.2.2 through 4.2.6, provide additional guidance on documentation and approval procedures required for USG institutions. These may differ slightly from those included in the Statewide Travel Policy, in that we do not use the State’s TTE System to create expense reports. However, we must include, at a minimum, all items required by State travel regulations.
4.2.2 Travel Expense Statements/Requests for Reimbursement
Requests for reimbursement should include the following information:
- Location, date, and time of departure should be included for single day trips;
- Location, date, and time of return should be included for single day trips;
- Lodging, mileage, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses, the types of which and their allowable limits are discussed in subsequent sections;
- Listing of meals included in conference registration fees, etc.;
- Itemized listing of expenses related to authorized meals not covered by the per diem allowance;
- Explanations of any expenses exceeding the established limits;
- Explanation of any unusual expenses submitted for reimbursement;
- Explanation of the purpose for the trip; and,
- Description of the type(s) of transportation used during the trip.
Employees must sign (manual or electronic) their travel expense statement, attesting the information presented on the form is accurate and complete. Employees who provide false information are subject to criminal penalty as a felony for false statements, subject to punishment by fine not to exceed $1,000, or imprisonment for one (1) to five (5) years.
4.2.3 Travel Expense Receipt Requirements
Employees must submit receipts for the following expenses:
- Lodging, with an itemized breakdown of costs such as room charge, parking, WIFI, laundry, etc.;
- Airline or railroad fares;
- Rental of motor vehicles;
- Registration fees;
- Visa/passport fees; and,
- All single expenditures of $25 or greater.
If an employee does not have a receipt for one of the items listed above, the employee must include an explanation of the expense on the travel expense statement. Credit card receipts are acceptable forms of documentation, provided they contain complete details of the expenditure.
4.2.4 Approval Requirements
A traveler’s immediate supervisor or higher administrative authority must approve a travel expense report before reimbursement will be issued. Institutions may require multiple approvers for certain expense reports; in these instances, all approvers in the submission process are held accountable. The approver should be in a higher level position of authority that is able to determine the appropriateness and reasonableness of expenses.
Exception – Presidents of institutions of the USG are excluded from the requirement that their expense reports must be approved by their immediate supervisor or higher administrative authority. However, processes should still be in place for their expense reports to be reviewed for appropriateness and reasonableness.
The specific provisions of the accounting review process related to travel expenses will be left to the discretion of each institution. However, the institution’s accounting review process must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Department heads and deans should designate a person (or persons) to examine and approve claims for reimbursement under these travel regulations.
- Claims should be reviewed to ensure they are reasonable, accurate, and cover expenses actually incurred by the employee during the authorized travel dates and times.
- Claims exceeding established limits should receive special scrutiny to ensure the explanations are sufficient to justify the higher amount. Employees should not assume all expenses exceeding allowable limits will be automatically approved for reimbursement.
By approving travel expenses, the approver is attesting that each transaction and supporting documentation has been thoroughly reviewed and has verified that all transactions are allowable expenses. Each transaction must be consistent with departmental budget and project/grant guidelines.
Upon granting approval of expense transactions, approvers are certifying:
- Appropriateness of the expenditure and reasonableness of the amount;
- Compliance with funding agency regulations and State reimbursement policies;
- Completeness and accuracy of documentation.
4.2.5 Institution Responsibilities
Responsibility for appropriate audit, approval, and reimbursement of travel expense statements is vested in the appropriate institutional officials. Institutions may impose additional requirements for travel expense reimbursement and reporting at their discretion.