University policy dictates that travel expense reimbursement requests be reviewed and approved by an individual with delegated authority. The purpose of this document is to describe the importance of this review and common problems we have identified from past audits and work completed.
1. University travel should be documented in a manner that allows for a clear understanding of the business purpose.
Travelers and those assisting them in processing expenses should ensure the purpose section in MyExpense or on paper documents (If MyExpense is not being used) properly describes why the trip was taken and how it benefits the University. Audit Services had found cases where travelers will describe the purpose of the trip as “business travel”, “conference”, or “attending conference.” These are inadequate explanations for the purpose of the travel expenses incurred. Instead of a traveler stating “annual meeting”, it could be “attend annual meeting of ER Physicians Group from May 8 to 10 and presented paper on drug administration system.”
2. No or inadequate support and explanation for extending a business trip beyond conference or meeting dates. It is acceptable for travelers to arrive a day or two early or stay a day or two after a meeting and conference provided that the purpose/reasons are clearly identify in the documentation the days which you were traveling on business and which days were pleasure. Lack of sufficient documentation may lead to questions and misunderstandings as to why a university traveler arrived before or stayed after a meeting or conference.
3. It is not uncommon for University travelers to lose or misplace receipts needed to obtain reimbursement. When this occurs, departments need to ask the traveler to obtain a duplicate receipt where feasible (hotels and car rental agencies, etc.) or ensure a traveler completes a Declaration of Missing Receipt form. Individuals assigned to review and approve travel expense reimbursements should monitor to identify specific travelers who have a pattern of losing original receipts. If a traveler regularly loses receipts, the department needs to counsel them on the importance of retaining receipt documents and if needed, ask the traveler to obtain a copy of the needed receipt from the hotel or other business.
4. When reviewing travel reimbursement requests associated with professional meetings or conferences, departments need to ensure travelers submit an event agenda or other materials to substantiate and further support the business purpose and dates of the trip.
5. University policy does not allow travel expense reimbursements to be approved by the traveler or by a person who reports directly or indirectly to the traveler. When routing travel expenses for approval in MyExpense or requesting approval on written reimbursement requests, departments need to have procedures in place to ensure reimbursement approvals are obtained by person at a higher level than the traveler.