4.4 Per Diem Allowance for Meals
University System of Georgia (USG) institutions shall be guided by general travel regulations set forth in this section when employees are required to travel away from headquarters in the performance of their official duties. These regulations, which are general in nature, are intended to provide a reasonable degree of uniformity for the various institutions within the system, and may be supplemented with such specific regulations and instructions as may be required.
In requiring certain of its employees to travel in the performance of their duties, the USG expects to reimburse them for reasonable and necessary expenses as may be incurred while traveling away from their official headquarters and places of residence. In cooperation with regulations promulgated by the State Accounting Office (SAO) and the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB), the Board of Regents (BoR) has adopted the following general regulations regarding travel of employees on USG official business.
Note: State travel regulations can be accessed at: http://sao.georgia.gov. Click on Travel Regulations and Forms in the Quick Links section to display the Travel Regulations page for more information.
Reimbursement claims for subsistence (meals and lodging) must be reported on travel expense statements segregated by date and location.
An individual taking annual leave while away from headquarters on official business is not entitled to subsistence for the period of leave. With certain exceptions, reimbursement for meals within a 30-mile radius and lodging within a 50-mile radius (or the county) of a person’s home office or residence is not allowable.
Out-of-state travel expenses for meals and lodging may exceed the following limits for travel within the state, but they should be reasonable and any unusual amounts should be justified.
Note: Users may consult Section 19.0, Miscellaneous, of this Manual for additional guidance in the following areas related to travel reimbursement:
- Section 19.7 – Employee Group Meals
- Section 19.8 – Purchase of Food Using Institutional Funds
- Section 19.9 – Non-Employee Travel
ACCOUNTABILITY means employees are responsible for timely and accurate accounting of their travel expenses. All staff will ensure travel is conducted in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
4.1.2 Commercial Transportation
COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION means any entity that offers transportation of people or goods to the public for pay.
4.1.3 County or Municipal Excise Tax
COUNTY OR MUNICIPAL EXCISE TAX means the local taxes charged by hotels/motels for lodging, also referred to as the “occupancy tax.” This tax is separate from state sales tax. See Section 4.11 for a link to the Exemption Form For Local Hotel/Motel Excise Tax.
4.1.4 DOAS Vehicles
DOAS VEHICLES means the inter-institutional vehicle motor pool that is operated on behalf of the Department of Administrative Services, Fleet Support Services through Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
4.1.5 Employee Travel Expense Statement
EMPLOYEE TRAVEL EXPENSE STATEMENT means the accounting document used as the basis to reimburse a state employee for travel expenses incurred while on official business. See Section 4.11 for a link to the Employee Travel Expense Statement.
4.1.6 Federal Per Diem Rate
FEDERAL PER DIEM RATE means the maximum reimbursements allowed to federal employees who are on travel status. The available rates only include locations within the continental United States. Separate per diem limits have been established for non-contiguous U.S. and foreign travel.
HEADQUARTERS means the physical, permanent work location assigned to an employee.
4.1.8 High Cost Area
HIGH COST AREA means any area within Georgia for which meal expenses may be reimbursed at a higher amount than the limits otherwise applied to travel within Georgia. Increased per diem allowances are available in certain locations designated as high-cost areas. The high cost areas in Georgia and the current high cost rates for these areas are located on the Meal Allowance Schedule of the SAO Travel website.
INSTITUTION means any agency, department, board, commission, college, university or other unit of state government that is subject to the Statewide Travel Regulations.
LODGING means a hotel, motel, inn, apartment, or similar entity that furnishes lodging to the public for pay.
4.1.11 Miscellaneous Travel Expense
MISCELLANEOUS TRAVEL EXPENSE means a necessary and reasonable expense incurred by a state employee while traveling on official business, other than meals, lodging, mileage, or transportation costs.
4.1.12 Normal Commuting Miles
NORMAL COMMUTING MILES means the miles traveled on a regular basis, usually daily, from an employee’s residence to the location most frequently associated with work performed outside of that residence, generally at the employee’s Headquarters. This should be a standard distance that does not change from one reimbursement request to the next.
4.1.13 Out-of-State Travel
OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL means travel from a point of origin within Georgia to a point of destination within another state or country. Travel to points just beyond the state border necessary for the accomplishment of in-state business shall not be construed as out-of-state travel for the purpose of these regulations.
4.1.14 Personal Motor Vehicle
PERSONAL MOTOR VEHICLE means a motor vehicle that is owned or leased by the employee for personal use. Personal motor vehicles include automobiles, motorcycles, and aircraft.
4.1.15 Per Diem Allowance
PER DIEM ALLOWANCE refers to the maximum daily food allowance for employees. The amount is not a reimbursement of actual expenses incurred. Receipts are not required for per diem meal amounts.
4.1.16 Point of Departure
POINT OF DEPARTURE means the beginning location used to calculate state-use miles traveled in a personal vehicle. For the normal workweek, the point of departure will be either the employee’s residence or headquarters, whichever is nearer to the destination point. During weekends and holidays, employees should use the actual point of departure to calculate travel mileage.
4.2.1 General Provisions
Written pre-trip authorization is no longer required except when lodging is required within a 50 mile radius. Institutions may require prior authorization for certain travel if they wish.
Subject to the provisions outlined in these travel regulations, the SAO and the OPB have authorized travel reimbursement for the following expenses:
- Meals associated with overnight lodging and in certain circumstances where there is no overnight lodging;
- Lodging expenses;
- Mileage for use of personal vehicles;
- Transportation expenses; and
- Certain miscellaneous expenses associated with travel, including parking and toll fees.
The specific policies regarding the reimbursement of travel expenses, as well as expense limits and required documentation are outlined in the following sections.
4.1.17 Travel Advance
TRAVEL ADVANCE means any payment to an employee for travel expenses that will be incurred for a scheduled, future trip.
4.2.2 Exceptions to Travel Regulations
Situations may arise in the course of performing job duties that may require employees to incur travel expenses that are generally not reimbursable. The SAO and the OPB are authorized to grant one-time exceptions for unusual circumstances.
4.2.3 Employee Authorization for Travel
Each employee required to travel in the performance of official duties and entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred shall receive prior authorization from the department head, dean, or other designated official for the performance of travel.
If approval is required, institutions should establish a written policy designating persons/positions authorized to approve travel.
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.
4.4.1 Per Diem Allowance for Meals Associated with Overnight Travel Within Georgia
Employees traveling overnight may be paid a per diem amount designed to cover the cost of meals (including taxes and tips), based on the number of meals per day for which the employee is eligible. For overnight trips, travelers will receive 75% of allowable per diem on day of departure and return. For example on your first day of travel an employee has meals that consist of breakfast/lunch/dinner then the per diem allowance will be ($28.00 x 75%) = $21.00 Employees will no longer be reimbursed at a 100% per diem for the first and last day of travel. Meal per diem was amended for Non-Overnight travel to remove the 75% reimbursement restriction. When eligibility requirements are met, an employee may receive 100% of the per diem for single day travel: Employees on State business who travel more than 50 miles from their Residence and Primary Work Station on a work assignment, AND are away for more than twelve (12) hours, may receive the total day’s per diem rate, even when there is no overnight lodging. The per diem allowance must, however, be adjusted for any meals provided to the traveler. Georgia has adopted GSA rates for out of state travel, including $5 incidentals. The in-state per diem rates do not include incidental expenses.
The daily meal limits shown below may be considered as a single daily total:
|Number of Meals Reimbursed||Meals Reimbursed||Maximum Allowable Expense|
|3 meals per day||breakfast/lunch/dinner||$28.00|
|2 meals per day||breakfast/lunch||$13.00|
|1 meal per day||breakfast||$ 6.00|
Note 1: Taxes and tips are allowable expenses. However, they should be included in the total expense for the meal.
Note 3: Employees may only receive per diem for meals occurring while officially on travel status.
Day of Departure and Return
Travelers are eligible for 75 percent of the total per diem rate on the first and last day of travel and on single day trips where continuous travel is equal to or greater than 12 hours. For example, if the per diem rate allows a $28 total reimbursement, $21.00 [($28 x .75) = $21] would be allowable on a travel departure or return day.
For trips involving multiple travel destinations, base the reduction on the per diem in effect for where the night was spent as follows:
- Departure Day: Where you spend the night.
- Return Day: Where you spent the night before returning to home base.
When meals are provided at no cost in conjunction with travel events on a travel departure or return day, the full meals per diem reimbursement rate is reduced by the full amount of the appropriate meals after the 75% proration. For example, if the per diem allows a $28 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost on a travel departure or return day, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $14 [($28 x .75) - $7 lunch = $14)].
Meal Per Diem During Non-Overnight Travel
Employees on State business who travel more than 50 miles from home or headquarters on a work assignment, and are away for more than twelve (12) hours may receive 100% of the total day’s per diem rate, even when there is no overnight lodging. Each Agency Head or their designees are to determine the reasonableness of when an overnight stay is justified.
Meals included in Conference Registrations, etc.
If any meal is included as a part of the cost of a conference registration, etc., such meal should not be considered eligible in the calculation of per diem and an employee may not receive per diem for the normally eligible number of meals. For example, if conference registration includes breakfast and lunch, the employee will only receive per diem for the dinner meal ($15; $20 for high-cost areas). Because most conferences, etc., accommodate a variety of dietary needs/restrictions, employees are expected to participate in such meals.
In rare circumstances, an employee may be unable to participate in a conference meal. In such a case, the employee may request the per diem amount associated with the meal purchased. If requesting such reimbursement, a receipt documenting the meal purchase must be attached to the travel expense statement, and a justification for the meal purchase must be indicated on the statement.
4.4.2 Per Diem Allowance for Meals Associated with Overnight Travel Within High-Cost Areas in GA
Employees are considered to be traveling in high-cost areas of Georgia when their official responsibilities must be performed at a location designated as a high-cost area, as defined in Section 4.1.8. When working and lodging in the designated high-cost areas, the following meal limits apply:
|Number of Meals Reimbursed||Meals Reimbursed||Maximum Allowable Expense|
|3 meals per day||breakfast/lunch/dinner||$36.00|
|2 meals per day||breakfast/lunch||$16.00|
|1 meal per day||breakfast||$ 7.00|
Note 1: Taxes and tips are allowable expenses. However, they should be included in the total expense for the meal.
Note 2: Employees who are not working and lodging in a designated high-cost area are not eligible for reimbursement under “high-cost” per diem guidelines.
4.4.3 Per Diem Allowance for Meals Associated with Overnight Travel Outside Georgia
Employees are considered traveling outside Georgia when their official responsibilities must be performed at an out-of-state location.
Note: Employees who are working in Georgia but lodging in another state are not traveling outside Georgia. Travel to points just beyond the state border necessary for the accomplishment of in-state business shall not be construed as out-of-state travel for the purpose of these regulations.
The federal per diem rates and meal amounts applicable to travel outside of Georgia can be found at: *
- Federal per diem rates for locations within the continental United States: http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem
- Breakdown by meal for federal per diem amounts: http://www.gsa.gov/mie
- Federal per diem rates for foreign travel: http://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp
- Breakdown by meal for foreign per diem amounts: http://aoprals.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=114&menu_id=81
- Federal per diem rates for Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories and possessions: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/perdiem/perdiemrates.html
4.4.4 Per Diem Allowance for Meals Not Associated with Overnight Travel
Employees traveling for their job who do not stay overnight may be reimbursed for meal expenses under the following situations.
Employees acting as an official representative for their department may receive per diem for meals that are an integral part of a scheduled, official meeting. Per diem is only authorized, however, if the meeting is with persons outside the employee’s department and if the meeting continues during the meal. Employees are not authorized to receive this per diem if they leave the premises of the meeting site.
Employees may be reimbursed for noon meals that are part of a required registration fee that is paid by the employee.
Note: Statewide Travel Regulations do not authorize employees to receive a per diem-based reimbursement for meals purchased during a “lunch meeting” in which the meal and the meeting are one and the same. The registration fee serves as the basis for reimbursement, not the per diem allowance.
Employees on state business who travel more than fifty (50) miles from home or headquarters on a work assignment, and are away for more than twelve (12) hours, may receive per diem for the noon meal, even when there is no overnight lodging. In addition to the noon meal, employees who depart prior to 6:30 a.m. are entitled to per diem for breakfast, and employees who return later than 7:30 p.m. are entitled to per diem for dinner. Employees must meet the eligibility requirements outlined above for per diem related to the noon meal before per diem for breakfast and/or dinner will be considered.
Employees who are reimbursed for any of these circumstances are still expected to remain within the authorized meal limits.
4.4.5 Meal Expenses Incurred While Taking Leave
Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for meal expenses incurred during the period of leave.
4.5.1 General Provisions
Employees who travel more than fifty (50) miles (and outside the county) from their home office, residence, or headquarters may be reimbursed for lodging expenses associated with overnight travel.
Employees will be reimbursed for the actual lodging expenses, provided the expenses are reasonable. Each institution may establish its own policy regarding the maximum reasonable rates for overnight lodging.
4.5.2 Employee Responsibilities
Employees traveling overnight are responsible for ensuring the most reasonable lodging rates are obtained. To accomplish this, employees should:
- Make reservations in advance, whenever practical;
- Utilize minimum rate accommodations;
- Avoid the “deluxe” hotels and motels; and,
- Obtain corporate/government rates, whenever possible.
4.5.3 Reimbursement of Lodging Expenses for Overnight Travel Outside of Georgia
Lodging expenses for hotels/motels outside Georgia may exceed the maximum reasonable rates set by an institution. Employees traveling out-of-state should refer to the federal per diem rates to identify high-cost areas of the United States, and to determine whether higher expenses are “reasonable and customary.” Lodging expenses associated with travel to high-cost areas should be approved by the department head, dean, or his/her designee prior to the trip.
The federal per diem rates can be found as follows:
- Federal per diem rates for locations within the continental United States: http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem
- Breakdown by meal for federal per diem amounts: http://www.gsa.gov/mie
- Federal per diem rates for Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories and possessions: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/perdiem/perdiemrates.html
Note: The rates published by the federal government should only be used as a guide to determine whether an expense is “reasonable and customary.”
4.5.4 Lodging Associated with a Meeting or Seminar
Employees who stay at a hotel/motel holding a scheduled meeting or seminar may incur lodging expenses in excess of the rates generally considered reasonable. The higher cost may be justified in order to avoid excessive transportation costs between a lower cost hotel/motel and the location of the meeting.
4.5.5 Authorization for Lodging Within the 50 Mile Radius
On occasion, institutions are required to sponsor conferences, trade shows, and other functions that require personnel to work at the event. In many cases, the persons planning and coordinating the event reside or work less than fifty (50) miles from the scheduled meeting site.
Institutions are authorized to approve overnight travel for such persons who are coordinating institution-sponsored events, provided the affected employees are required to conduct business activities at the site the following day. In addition to lodging, affected employees may be reimbursed for meals and mileage in accordance with the provisions of the Statewide Travel Regulations.
Institutions are required to keep records of all persons authorized for travel status under this provision. Such records must be maintained in a central file and must include the names of all persons approved for travel under this provision, the dates of the event, the purpose of the event, the responsibilities of the individuals approved for travel status, and the written and signed authorization of the department head, dean, and his/her designee. Authorization for such travel must be done in advance of the scheduled event.
It should be noted that this provision only applies to conferences and other institution- sponsored events that occur. This provision does not authorize persons to claim travel reimbursement for activities that are part of their normal responsibilities. In addition, this provision would not apply for persons who are required to attend evening meetings as part of their normal responsibilities.
4.6.1 General Provisions
The Legislature in its 2005 special session passed Senate Bill 1 EX, amending OCGA 50-19-5 and tying the mileage reimbursement rate for use of a personal motor vehicle to the rate established by the United States General Services Administration (GSA) pursuant to the Federal Travel Regulations Amendment 2005-01 as of July 1, 2005, or subsequently amended.
These GSA rates are based on a determination of the most advantageous form of travel. Advantageous use may be determined based on energy conservation, total cost to the state including costs of overtime, lost work time, and actual transportation costs, total distance traveled, number of points visited, and number of travelers. Documentation of the determination of “advantageous use” should be retained for audit purposes.
Note: For more information, refer to the following:
- General Services Administration: http://www.gsa.gov/pov
- DOAS Vehicle Cost Comparison Tool: http://ssl.doas.state.ga.us/vehcostcomp/
Employees are encouraged to utilize institution-owned vehicles, if available, for travel within the state of Georgia, and, when appropriate, for travel outside the state. However, if institution-owned vehicles are not available, employees may choose between using DOAS or personal vehicles. Institutions may reimburse employees for the mileage incurred during the employee’s use of a personal vehicle.
The mileage reimbursement encompasses all expenses associated with the operation of a personal motor vehicle, with the exception of tolls and parking expenses, which are reimbursed separately.
4.5.6 Shared Lodging
When employees on travel status share a room, reimbursement will be calculated, if practical, on a prorated share of the total cost. When a state employee on travel status is accompanied by someone who is not a state employee on travel status, the employee is entitled to reimbursement at a single-room rate.
4.6.2 Mileage Reimbursement Rates for Use of Personal Vehicles
By law, state institutions do not have the authority to enforce mileage rates other than those stated in the applicable policy. Any reimbursement of mileage claims paid to an employee in excess of rates stipulated in this policy must be refunded to the state or characterized as taxable compensation to the employee.
Note: Mileage rates are changed only upon notification from SAO and OPB via the SAO web site or official communication. New rates should not be utilized based solely on GSA updates.
Privately-Owned Vehicle (POV) Reimbursement Rates
For travel on or after January 1, 2011, reimbursement rates for the business use of personal motor vehicles are as follows:
Tier 1 Rate. When it is determined that a personal motor vehicle is the most advantageous form of travel, the employee will be reimbursed for business miles traveled as follows:
Vehicle Type Rate Per Mile Automobile $0.575 Motorcycle $0.545 Aircraft $1.29
Tier 2 Rate. If a government-owned (institution-owned or DOAS motor pool, for employees in the vicinity of Capitol Hill) vehicle is available, and its use is determined to be most advantageous to the state, OR if it is determined (through institution policy or otherwise) that a rental vehicle (Enterprise Rent-a Car contract) is the recommended method of travel, but a personal motor vehicle is used, the employee will be reimbursed for business miles traveled at the rate of $0.23 per mile.
Tier 3 Rate. This rate is no longer applicable.
Determination of Business Miles Traveled
Employees may be reimbursed for the mileage incurred from the point of departure to the travel destination, as noted below.
If an employee departs from headquarters, mileage is calculated from headquarters to the destination point.
If an employee departs from his/her residence, mileage is calculated from the residence to the destination point, with a reduction for normal one-way commuting miles. For the return trip, if an employee returns to headquarters, mileage is calculated based on the distance to such headquarters.
If an employee returns to his/her residence, mileage is calculated based on the distance to the residence, with a reduction for normal one-way commuting miles.
Institutions are responsible for setting internal, written policies covering normal commuting miles/start points for mileage reimbursement when an employee’s regular business function requires the use of a personal motor vehicle for travel from his/her residence to multiple locations in a given day, or when an employee’s “headquarters” differ from day to day.
If travel occurs on a weekend or holiday, mileage is calculated from the point of departure with no reduction for normal commuting miles.
If an employee utilizes state-sponsored transportation alternatives (e.g. MARTA), for which payments have been made for the period of time the employee is on travel status, the “normal commuting mileage” should be calculated as the mileage from the employee’s residence to the boarding site of the alternative transportation method.
If an employee does not regularly travel to an office (headquarters) outside of his/her residence (i.e., residence is “headquarters”), the requirement to deduct normal commuting miles does not apply.
Note: This exception does not apply to those operating under the institution’s telework policy.
Employees may also be reimbursed for business miles traveled as follows:
- Miles traveled to pick up additional passengers;
- Miles traveled to obtain meals for which the employee is eligible for reimbursement; and,
- Miles traveled to multiple work sites.
The following examples clarify how these mileage rules and exceptions apply to employee travel:
Headquarters to Remote Site. An employee’s normal commute is 15 miles, one way. The employee is required to travel to job site 40 miles from headquarters. Employee drives to headquarters, then to remote site, then back to headquarters before returning home. Employee business miles traveled: 80 miles.
- From Headquarters to Remote Site: 40 miles
- From Remote Site to Headquarters: 40 miles
- Total Business Miles: 80 miles
Residence to Headquarters to Remote Site. An employee’s normal commute is 15 miles, one way. The employee is required to travel to job site 18 miles from headquarters. The employee drives to headquarters, then to the remote site, then home, which is 19 miles from remote site. Employee business miles traveled: 22 miles.
- From Headquarters to Remote Site: 18 miles
- From Remote Site to Residence: 19 miles
- Less Residence to Headquarters: -15 miles
- Total Business Miles: 22 miles
Residence to Remote Site. An employee’s normal commute is 15 miles, one way. The employee leaves from home to attend a conference 200 miles from the employee’s residence. At the conclusion of the conference, the employee returns directly home. Employee business miles traveled: 370 miles.
- From Residence to Remote Site: 200 miles
- Less Residence to Headquarters: -15 miles
- From Remote Site to Residence: 200 miles
- Less Residence to Headquarters: -15 miles
- Total Business Miles: 370 miles
Headquarters to Remote Site with Lodging. An employee’s normal commute is 15 miles, one way. The employee leaves from headquarters on Monday for a remote work site 150 miles from headquarters. The employee acquires lodging 5 miles from remote work site, and then returns to headquarters on Friday. Employee business miles traveled: 340 miles.
- From Headquarters to Remote Site: 150 miles
- From Remote Site to Lodging – Mon: 5 miles
- Lodging/Remote Site Round Trip – Tues: 10 miles
- Lodging/Remote Site Round Trip – Wed: 10 miles
- Lodging/Remote Site Round Trip – Thurs: 10 miles
- From Lodging to Remote Site – Fri: 5 miles
- From Remote Site to Headquarters: 150 miles
- Total Business Miles: 340 miles
4.6.3 Prohibited Mileage Reimbursements
Employees are not entitled to mileage reimbursement for:
- Travel between their place of residence and their official headquarters; or,
- Personal mileage incurred while on travel status.
4.6.4 Reimbursement for Parking Fees and Tolls
Institutions may reimburse employees who incur parking and toll expenses while on official travel for the institution. These expenses are reimbursable for travel in both state-owned and personal vehicles.
While there are no maximum limits for parking, employees are encouraged to utilize low-cost, long-term parking to minimize the cost.
4.6.5 Required Documentation of Mileage, Parking, and Toll Expenses
All requests for reimbursement of mileage, parking, and toll charges must be documented on the employee travel expense statement.
Personal/commuting mileage is then excluded to determine the actual state-use miles. Employees should claim mileage based on the most direct route from the point of departure to the destination. Employees should use alternative methods such as Google maps or MapQuest to calculate actual travel distances, and approvers should confirm these calculations.
Deviations from the most direct route (e.g., due to field visits, picking up passengers, etc.) should be explained on the travel expense statement.
Requests for reimbursement of parking fees and tolls paid should also be recorded on the travel expense statement. Employees are expected to obtain receipts for these expenses. If it is not possible to obtain a receipt, a written explanation should be included on the expense statement.
Employees who share a state-owned or personal vehicle with another employee and do not claim reimbursement for mileage should indicate the name of the person they rode with and the dates of the trips on the travel expense statement.
Instances in which employees utilize state-owned aircraft also should be noted on the travel expense statement.
4.6.6 Use of Institution-Owned or DOAS Vehicles
Institutions maintaining a fleet of vehicles should establish the necessary policies and procedures consistent with state fleet management policy for employees to request, utilize, and maintain the vehicles. Employees traveling in state-owned vehicles should purchase fuel using the state-contracted fuel program credit card at fuel program network fuel stations. If the vehicle should break down while traveling, the institution responsible for maintaining the vehicle should provide for repairs and roadside assistance to the driver.
4.1.18 Travel Advance Authorization Form
TRAVEL ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION FORM means the form used to document approval of cash advances by the institution head, dean, or his/her designee and to document receipt of the cash advance by the employee. See Section 4.11 for a link to the Travel Advance Authorization Form.
4.1.19 Travel Exception
TRAVEL EXCEPTION means written authorization for travel reimbursement of expenses generally not allowed under the Statewide Travel Regulations.
4.1.20 Travel Expenses
TRAVEL EXPENSES means meal, lodging, mileage, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.
4.5.7 Taxes Associated with Lodging Expenses
Employees should review hotel/motel receipts to ensure that taxes have been applied correctly to their lodging expenses, in accordance with the state tax laws and regulations. Employees should attempt to resolve any problems with the billing prior to checkout.
Lodging Paid Directly by Employees
If lodging is paid directly by the employee by personal credit card, personal check, or cash, state and local government officials and employees traveling within the state on official business are exempt from paying the county or municipal excise tax on lodging (“hotel/motel” or “occupancy” tax) pursuant to OCGA 48-13-51. Employees are required to pay any state/local sales and use taxes.
The exemption when paying by personal credit card, check or cash only applies to the hotel/motel tax. This exemption does not apply to employees staying at an out-of-state hotel/motel.
Employees should provide proper identification to document their employment as a state or local government employee when they check in at the hotel/motel. Employees should also submit a copy of the hotel/motel tax-exemption form when they register. See Section 4.11 for a link to the Exemption Form For Local Hotel/Motel Excise Tax.
If the hotel refuses to accept the hotel/motel tax-exemption form at check-in, the employee should attempt to resolve the issue with hotel management before checking out at the end of their stay. Employees should also review hotel/motel receipts prior to leaving the premises to ensure that taxes have been applied correctly to their lodging expenses in accordance with the state tax laws and regulations and resolve any potential problems and overcharges.
If the matter is not resolved by the time the employee checks out, the employee should pay the tax. The employee should explain the payment of the tax as an unusual expense on their travel statement.
Institutions are authorized to reimburse employees for the hotel/motel tax if the employee provides the institution with the following information:
- Employee name;
- Date(s) of lodging;
- Name, address, telephone number of hotel; and,
- Documentation from the hotel/motel of their refusal to omit the tax.
Institutions should forward this information to the SAO by email to: SAO_Reporting@sao.ga.gov, or by regular mail to: 200 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 1604 West Tower, Atlanta, GA 30334.
Lodging Paid Directly by State or Local Government
If lodging is paid directly by the state or local government, such as by direct-bill, state credit card, or government check, the hotel/motel should not collect any taxes associated with the lodging expenses.
4.5.8 Resort and Other Fees
Some hotels include a charge for “resort” or other fees. These are not tax-exempt fees, and should be reimbursed as an eligible lodging expense.
4.5.9 Internet Usage Charges
As noted in Section 4.9.5, employees may be reimbursed for work-related Internet usage charges. These charges should be separately identified on the itemized hotel/motel bill, but should not be listed on the travel expense statement as “lodging.” Rather, these charges should be treated as miscellaneous expenses, included in the “voice/data communications” section of the travel expense statement.
4.5.10 Lodging Expenses Incurred While Taking Leave
Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for lodging expenses incurred during the period of leave.
4.5.11 Required Documentation of Lodging Expenses
Daily lodging expenses, including applicable taxes, must be itemized on the employee travel expense statement. Employees requesting reimbursement for lodging expenses are required to submit receipts with their expense statement.
In addition, any expenses that exceed the maximum reasonable rates established by the respective institution should be explained on the travel statement. Individuals responsible for approving travel expenses should review these explanations to determine whether the higher costs are justified and allowable.
4.5.12 Georgia’s “Green Hotels” Program
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has developed a program to identify and certify lodging properties that are taking significant steps to reduce their demands on Georgia’s natural resources and acting as good corporate citizens. These certified “Green Hotels” meet a stringent standard for environmental stewardship and operational efficiency. By using less toxic cleaning and maintenance chemicals, these hotels provide healthier conditions for guest and employees.
When traveling on state business and hosting meetings, state employees are encouraged to explore opportunities to support these properties where cost-competitive. The current list of certified properties is available at: http://www.greenseal.org/FindGreenSealProductsandServices/HotelsandLodgingProperties.aspx.
4.9.1 Telephone/Telegraph/Fax Expenses
Employees may be reimbursed for expenses incurred for work related telephone, telegraph, and fax messages. Employees must document these claims on the travel expense statement, and indicate the location from which each call was made, the person contacted, and the reason for the communication. Personal calls made while on travel status are not reimbursable.
4.9.2 Stationary/Supplies/Postage Expenses
Reimbursement for stationery, supplies, stenographic, or duplicating services may be reimbursed, provided the expense is directly associated with a work-related project and the cost is reasonable. In addition, work-related postage expenses may be reimbursed. Employees requesting reimbursement for these expenses must document actual expenses on the travel statement and explain the purpose for these expenses. Receipts/invoices should accompany the travel expense statement.
4.9.3 Baggage Handling Services
Employees may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses associated with baggage handling services (porterage) when an expense is actually incurred in moving luggage into or out of lodging places, common carriers, and/or airports.
4.9.4 Registration Fees
An employee’s registration fees required for participation in workshops, seminars, or conferences will be allowed when participation is authorized and the expense is supported by a paid receipt or a copy of the check showing payment. Any part of a registration fee applicable to meals will be reported as a meal expense, not a registration fee, if the costs can be separately identified.
4.9.5 Internet Usage Charges
Employees may be reimbursed for work-related Internet usage charges. These charges should be separately identified on the itemized hotel/motel bill, and should not be listed on the travel expense statement as “lodging.” Internet usage charges should be included in the “voice/data communications” section of the travel expense statement.
4.9.6 Visa/Passport Fees
When travel required by an employer requires the use of a passport and/or visa, and the employee does not currently possess such valid document(s), the related visa/passport fee is eligible for reimbursement when documented by a receipt.
4.9.7 Unallowable Expenses
The following expenses are not reimbursable unless specific legal authority has been established:
- Laundry, unless overnight travel exceeds seven (7) consecutive days.
- Tipping for hotel concierge or maid services;
- Valet services for parking, when self-parking options are available;
- Alcoholic beverages;
- Visa/passport fees, except as noted in Section 4.9.6 above; and
- Bank charges for ATM withdrawals, except on international travel.
4.10.1 General Provisions
OCGA 45-7-25 and 45-7-26 authorize the payment of travel advances to employees of all state institutions, commissions, and authorities. State law also charges the OPB Director with the responsibility for developing the necessary rules, regulations, and procedures to govern travel advances and to provide for proper and timely accounting of state funds advanced to employees once the employees have returned from travel status. OPB issued Policy Memorandum No. 1 (Revision 3, 2006) to address travel advances. The information provided in this section summarizes this policy statement.
Note: Institutions are authorized to set specific policies and procedures regarding travel advances, provided the policies and procedures do not conflict with any regulations addressed in the remainder of this section.
4.10.2 Purpose of Travel Advances
The purpose of travel advances is to minimize the financial burden on employees while traveling on behalf of the state. This objective can be accomplished either by the issuance of corporate charge cards or by cash advances to the employees.
4.10.3 Corporate Charge Cards
Corporate charge cards may be issued to eligible employees upon approval by the department head, dean, or his/her designee and the company issuing the corporate charge card. Corporate charge cards are beneficial because they:
- Reduce the employee’s and the institution’s cash flow by minimizing the need for cash advances;
- Reduce the frequency of reimbursements for travel expenses;
- Require no annual membership fee or finance charges if paid within the terms of the agreement;
- Provide emergency cash to the employee;
- Eliminate the need for the institution to direct pay airline tickets, travel agents, and car rental agencies;
- Provide guarantee for hotel rooms and other services requiring a deposit; and,
- Provide the institution with various financial reports regarding employee travel expenses.
Corporate charge cards are issued directly to the employee, and all expenses charged to the corporate charge card are paid by the employee. Therefore, there is no liability to the state or an institution, even if the employee defaults.
Employees who receive corporate charge cards are only authorized to use the charge cards for business purposes.
4.10.4 Authority to Advance Cash for Travel
Since corporate charge cards are now available to employees, institutions should minimize the use of cash advances. However, institution personnel should still consider issuing cash advances for the following circumstances:
- For justifiable reason(s), the employee has not received a corporate charge card;
- For employees who generally do not travel and are making a one time trip; or
- For special exceptions approved by the department head, dean or his/her designee.
The department head, dean, or his/her designee is authorized to advance state funds to employees traveling on behalf of the state. Funds may be advanced for anticipated subsistence (meals and lodging), as well as for mileage and other transportation costs that are reimbursable under these travel regulations. Travel advances are not required by state law or by these regulations, but are left to the discretion of the department head, dean, or his/her designee.
4.10.5 Approval of Cash Advances for Travel
Department heads, deans, or their designees are required to specifically authorize each cash advance made to an employee. The written authorization for a cash advance should be included on the Travel Cash Advance Authorization form. This form should also be signed by the employee to document that the cash advance was received.
4.10.6 Amount of Cash Advance
Each institution may establish its own policies regarding cash advance limits. Institutions should consider the nature and probable duration of the travel when determining cash advance limits. The amount of a cash advance shall be related to the estimated cost of travel, as outlined on the travel authorization form, but shall be held to a minimum and allowed only when the department head, dean, or his/her designee determines that an advance is warranted.
4.10.7 Employee and Institution Accountability of Funds Advanced
Each employee receiving a cash advance shall sign and date the travel advance authorization form acknowledging receipt of the funds. All employees are fully responsible for funds advanced to them and shall account for the funds in accordance with the statewide travel regulations. Employees are liable for any advanced funds that are lost or stolen.
Neither state law nor these regulations, however, in any way relieve the department head, dean, or his/her designee from the responsibility of accounting for all funds expended for travel purposes.
4.10.8 Recovery of Cash Advances Made for Specific Trips
When the actual travel expenditures reported on the travel expense statement exceed the amount of the cash advance, the employee shall be reimbursed for the additional travel costs incurred. Cash advances for specific trips shall be recovered under the following three circumstances:
When the actual travel expenditures reported on the travel expense statement are less than the amount of the cash advance, the employee shall reimburse the Institution for the difference. This reimbursement shall be made at the same time that the travel expense statement is submitted.
In the event of cancellation or indefinite postponement of authorized travel, any cash advances that were made shall be refunded immediately.
Outstanding travel advances should be recovered from terminating employees. The department head, dean, or his/her designee shall establish procedures to ensure that terminating employees do not have outstanding cash advances and have turned in their corporate charge cards.
4.10.9 Recovery of Cash Advances for Continuous Travel
For cases in which an employee is in a continuous travel status and has been given a blanket routine travel authorization, the full recovery of any cash advance is not required until the employee is removed from continuous travel status. Both the employee and the department head, dean, or his/her designee shall be responsible for ensuring that the cash advance does not exceed the expected travel expenses for one (1) pay period. Travel expenses incurred during each pay period shall be reported on the travel expense statement and submitted at the end of the period. Any reimbursement of funds to the employee must not increase the outstanding cash advance above the authorized limit.
4.7.1 General Provisions
State employees are encouraged to travel by state-owned or personal vehicles when feasible and cost-effective. However, when commercial transportation is necessary, employees may be reimbursed for the expenses incurred. Employees will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred, provided the appropriate steps are taken to obtain the lowest possible fare or cost.
Institutional personnel must receive prior written approval to travel by commercial or public transportation. When considering such a request, institutional personnel should consider the distance to be traveled, the travel time, and the cost.
4.7.2 Commercial Air Transportation
Employees should utilize commercial air transportation when it is more cost-effective and efficient to travel by air than by motor vehicle. Under such circumstances, institutions may reimburse employees for expenses incurred for air travel, provided these expenses were approved prior to the date of travel.
Note: Employees who choose to travel by motor vehicle, whether personal, state-owned, or commercial, when air transportation is more cost-effective, may only receive reimbursement for the cost of the lowest available airfare to the specified destination.
Employees who require air travel should obtain the lowest available airfare to a specified destination, which may include the use of the Internet, a travel agent, or the state airfare contract.
The state purchasing office of the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) has contracted with airlines for various travel destinations. Employees should refer to the statewide contract when making travel arrangements. Airfares included in this contract may be accessed at: http://ssl.doas.state.ga.us/PRSapp/PR_StateWide_contract_menu.jsp.
Employees who utilize the state airfare contract may purchase their tickets directly through a travel agent, or may pick up their tickets in person at a ticket office or at the airport. Tickets may be purchased using a state-issued corporate charge card, state purchasing card, personal credit card on an as-needed basis with prior approval of institution, or through invoicing by a travel agent.
It should be noted that employees are not required to use the statewide contract when lower fares can be obtained through another airline or reservation method. The contracted airline should, however, be offered the opportunity to meet the lower fare. Employees also are also not required to use the statewide contract if the contracted flight is not non-stop and the contracted flight would cause the employee undue hardship or would conflict with the employee’s schedule.
Use of Travel Agents
Many travel agents now charge small fees for issuing tickets. These fees, if reasonable, are part of the cost of travel. Employees may, therefore, be reimbursed for such costs, regardless of whether the airfare tickets were purchased through the state airfare contract or not. However, employees are strongly encouraged to use the Internet in order to avoid travel agent fees.
Travel agents used for making travel arrangements should not be related to the employee making, authorizing, or approving the arrangements. The travel agents also should not be related to the employee actually traveling. A “related” party would include any members of the employee’s family or any organizations in which the employee or his/her family members have a financial interest. The purpose for not using such travel agents is to maintain the state’s integrity in financial matters. The actions of all state employees must be above reproach.
Special Travel Provisions
In general, it is the state’s policy that state officials or employees traveling by commercial air carrier travel in the most cost-effective manner and utilize the lowest possible coach fares. Officials or employees traveling by commercial air carrier will not be reimbursed for the portion of non-coach (first class, business class, etc.) airfare that exceeds the cost of the lowest available fare on the same flight unless:
- There is no other space available on the needed flight;
- The Commissioner of Public Safety certifies that specific air travel arrangements are necessary for security reasons; or,
- A licensed medical practitioner certifies that, because of a person’s mental or physical condition, specific air travel arrangements are required.
- An international Business class nonstop flight exceeds 10 hours in duration. This does not include any time spent in between flights during a connection.
- Note: Institution officials are responsible for obtaining the necessary medical certifications for any employee who requires special air travel arrangements due to a medical condition. Institution officials should also obtain information specifying the expected length of time such condition would have an impact on travel needs.
Institutions should maintain such information in a manner that would enable the auditors to readily determine who is subject to these special travel provisions.
4.7.3 Upgrades to Non-Coach Travel
State officials or employees may, at any time, use personal frequent flyer miles or similar programs to upgrade to non-coach travel. In addition, nothing in this policy shall preclude a state official or employee from personally paying for an upgrade to non-coach travel.
For purposes of conducting official state business, state officials or employees may negotiate or arrange for upgrades to non-coach travel with individual commercial carriers if:
- The flight is international and over five hours in duration; and,
- The carrier agrees not to charge any additional cost to the state.
4.7.4 Indemnification Received Due to Travel Inconveniences Imposed by Airlines
Occasions may arise when airlines overbook, change, delay or cancel flights, thereby imposing travel inconveniences on their passengers. In these instances, airlines often offer the impacted passengers indemnification for these inconveniences. Examples of indemnification that may be offered by an airline include vouchers for meals or lodging, upgrades to non-coach travel, and credits toward future flight costs. State employees are authorized to accept such indemnification if the travel inconvenience was imposed by the airline and there is no additional cost to the state.
4.7.5 Additional Airline Charges
Most airlines charge an additional fee for changes in flights. Employees should make every effort to avoid changes, but if an additional fee is imposed for rescheduling, this becomes part of the travel expense and is reimbursable. The reason for the change must be documented in the expense report.
If a portion or all of the airline ticket is not used for reasons beyond the control of the employee, the employee may be reimbursed for the cost of the airline ticket, with the approval of his/her supervisor. This reimbursement will not be considered a travel expense. The reason for not using the ticket must be documented on the request for employee reimbursement.
Most airlines also charge a fee for paper tickets that could be electronically ticketed. Employees are strongly encouraged to avoid this fee by using the Internet. If there is a valid reason for a paper ticket and a fee is charged, it becomes part of the travel expense and is reimbursable. In the event there is a charge for checking luggage, the State will reimburse for a maximum of one (1) piece of checked luggage. In the event additional bag(s) are required, requests for reimbursement must include an associated explanation.
4.7.6 Fly America Act
Airline travel reimbursement on federal and federal pass-through sponsored agreements is subject to the requirements found in the Fly America Act (49 U.S.C. 40118), which requires federal employees and others performing U.S. Government financed travel to use U.S. flag carriers for all air travel funded by the United States Government unless U.S. carriers are unavailable. This includes U.S. federal government employees and their dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees, and others.
Note: U.S. flag air carrier service is considered available even if:
- A foreign air carrier would be at less cost to the traveler or institution; or,
- A foreign air carrier would be more convenient to the traveler.
Employees may be reimbursed for the use of a private aircraft. Reimbursement will be at the same rate as mileage reimbursement for travel in a personal vehicle, as noted in Section 4.6.2. Reimbursement is made for the most direct route via highway miles from the employee’s residence or headquarters to the destination point(s), whichever is nearer.
Employees utilizing private aircraft should document the expense on the employee travel expense statement. In the Comments section of the employee travel expense statement, the employee should add following comment: “Traveled by private aircraft, registration number Nxxxx; mileage calculated from the official highway map.”
4.7.7 Out-of-State Rental of Motor Vehicles
The use of commercially leased vehicles will be left to the discretion of institutional personnel responsible for authorizing travel. Employees requiring the use of commercially-leased vehicles may obtain their vehicles through the state-contracted rental agency according to the conditions of the statewide contract issued by the DOAS. This contract is available through the statewide travel regulations on the Internet. The contract can also be directly accessed at the following Internet address: http://ssl.doas.state.ga.us/PRSapp/PR_StateWide_contract_menu.jsp
Employees are also encouraged to contact travel agencies to identify the lowest available rates. Employees who are able to obtain lower rates through other companies should use these other companies to rent their vehicles.
Employees traveling on state business in a rented motor vehicle are covered by the state’s liability policy. Therefore, liability coverage should be declined when renting a motor vehicle from an entity on the statewide contract. Loss Damage Waiver/Collision Damage Waiver (LDW/CDW) insurance is included in the statewide contract at no additional cost. However, it is very important that employees purchase the additional coverage that addresses loss or damage to the rental unit, if you are renting outside of the statewide contract. Contact DOAS Risk Management Services or go to http://doas.ga.gov/StateLocal/Risk/Pages/RiskInsurance.aspx for more information.
Employees requiring the use of commercially leased vehicles will be reimbursed for gasoline purchases associated with the business use of such vehicle, provided appropriate receipts are included.
4.7.8 Travel by Railroad
Institutions may reimburse employees for the actual cost of rail transportation, provided the appropriate personnel authorized the travel expense in advance. Employees traveling by rail are encouraged to obtain the lowest possible fare. There is no statewide contract for transportation by rail.
4.7.9 Travel by Mass Transportation, Taxi, or Airport Vans
Employees officially on travel status may be reimbursed for necessary costs of transportation by bus, taxi, or airport vans for the following situations:
- Between the employee’s departure point and the common carrier’s departure point;
- Between the common carrier’s arrival point and the employee’s lodging or meeting place; and,
- Between the lodging and meeting places if at different locations.
These guidelines strongly encourage that employees use airport vans when available, when arrival or departure is during daylight hours, and when they are the lowest cost alternative.
4.7.10 Reimbursement for Baggage Handling Services
Employees may be reimbursed for expenses associated with baggage handling services (porterage) when an expense is actually incurred in moving luggage into or out of lodging places, common carriers, and/or airports, when such expense was necessary. Employees should not be reimbursed for such expenses when they choose to use baggage-handling services as a convenience to them.
4.7.11 Required Documentation of Expenses
All travel by commercial or public transportation must be recorded on the employee travel expense statement. Employees requesting reimbursement must submit receipts for travel by commercial air carrier or railroad and for the cost of rented vehicles, including the cost of gasoline purchased when the amount is over $25.00. Although receipts are not needed for expenses under $25.00, employees must include a point-to-point explanation for each item reimbursed. All transportation expenses should be itemized on the employee travel expense statement.
This section includes links to the following standard forms associated with employee business travel: