4.3 General Reimbursement Procedures and Documentation Requirements
4.3.1 General Provisions
Employees requesting reimbursement for travel expenses are required to submit their claim to authorized personnel on the employee travel expense statement. See Section 4.11 for a link to the Standard Travel Expense Statement. Institutions are authorized to make revisions to the standard form without prior approval by USG. Employees should submit expense reports within 45 calendar days of completion of travel. Employees must return any Travel Advance amount in excess of allowable substantiated expenses within 45 calendar days after the completion of the trip.
Institutions should encourage employees to enroll in direct deposit to reduce the overall processing time of an expense reimbursement request.
4.3.2 Travel Expense Statements/Requests for Reimbursement
Requests for reimbursement should include the following information:
- Location, date, and time of departure;
- Location, date, and time of return;
- 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 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 of not to exceed $1,000, or imprisonment for one (1) to five (5) years.
4.3.3 Travel Expense Receipt Requirements
Employees must submit receipts for the following expenses:
- Meals purchased in lieu of those provided at the conference/training;
- 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,
- Any other valid expense over $25, including:
- Gasoline purchased for rental vehicles;
- Toll fees;
- Mass transit fares;
- Taxi fares; and,
- Airport van/shuttle fares.
If an employee does not have a receipt for one of the above items (other than per diem meals), 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.
4.3.4 Additional Receipt Requirements
Additional receipt requirements apply to the following expenses:
Supply and Material Charges. Any expenses submitted by an employee for office supplies or materials must be accompanied by a receipt, regardless of the amount. Institutions should encourage employees to become familiar with price agreements and refrain from purchasing supplies while traveling, if the item is available on a price agreement.
Local and Long Distance Phone Charges. Any expenses submitted by an employee for local or long distance phone calls must be accompanied by a receipt, regardless of the amount. Only hotel access charges, official local or long distance business calls are eligible for reimbursement. Receipts must itemize the date, number of minutes used and the charge for each phone call.
Personal Cell Phone Charges. Any expenses submitted by an employee for personal cell phone usage must be accompanied by a statement or receipt, regardless of the amount. Receipts must itemize the date, number of minutes used, and the appropriate computation of the cost per minute, calculated by any method resulting in the lowest cost per minute to the state of Georgia.
Baggage and Luggage Fees. Any expenses submitted by an employee for baggage handling must be accompanied by a statement or receipt, regardless of the amount. Travelers should use all diligence to minimize or avoid extra fees charged by the airlines. When combining personal travel with state business travel, baggage and luggage fees should be evaluated for reasonableness and allocated appropriately.
4.3.5 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, the final approver in the submission process is 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 University System of Georgia are excluded from the requirement that their expense report 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.
4.3.6 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.