Accounts Payable

Effective Date: 07/01/00
Updated: 07/17/08

Procedure Statement 3: Policies Governing Travel & Expense Allowances


I. Travel Approval and Reimbursement

  1. Employee Responsibility
  2. An employee traveling on official business is expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise in traveling on personal business and expending personal funds. Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays or luxury accommodations, and services unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official business are not acceptable under this standard. Employees will be responsible for unauthorized costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience. Each traveler, whether an employee or a non-employee, is responsible for his or her own expenses. The university should not be billed for individual Travel-related expenses. The State has authorized the use of the American Express credit card for business travel. The ECU Procard has been expanded to include airline, train and bus fare for employees business travel needs. These cards are distributed at the discretion of the department head and Materials Management. Employee misuse of state issued credit cards will be grounds for card termination and personnel action.

  3. Travel Authorization
  4. All university Travel is subject to availability of budgeted funds and must be approved before Travel may begin. In order to allow sufficient time for obtaining approvals, requests for in-state, out-of-state, and blanket Travel should be initiated at least two weeks in advance of departure. Approval for Travel abroad (out of the country) should be requested four weeks prior to departure.

    The following chart indicates approvals required prior to Travel.  
     

    APPROVAL REQUIRED BY

    TYPE OF TRAVEL

    Department
    Head

    Dean

    Vice
    Chancellor

    In-State (no excess
    subsistence)

    X

     

     

    Out-of-State 

    X

    X

     

    Excess Subsistance
    (In and Out-of-State)

    X

    X

     

    Excess Reimbursement
    ($1,500 limit)

    X

    X

    X

    Out-of-Country

    X

    X

    X

    Blanket Authorization

    X

    X

    X

     

    For in-state travel with no excess subsistence, part one of the travel Authorization/Reimbursement for Travel form must be completed (with proper signatures obtained) and held in the departmental office prior to the trip. Upon completion of Travel, parts two (2) and three (3) are to be completed and sent to the dean/department head and/or vice chancellor.

  5. Blanket Travel Authorization
  6. This request is for trips that are continually repeated, for in-state travel, and for one-day trips. Only mileage expenses are covered by blanket travel. Registration, tuition fees, meals, and all other expenses are not covered by blanket travel.

    Requests for reimbursement for mileage should be filed on a monthly basis. Indicate the purpose of the travel on the travel reimbursement form. The reimbursement is to be received by the Travel Office no later than the fifteenth of the following month. (Example: A request covering the month of September is to be filed by October 15.)

  7. Requests for Excess Allowance
  8. All out-of-state, out-of-country, and excess subsistence travel requests must be made on the Travel Authorization/Reimbursement for Travel form (part 7, section 2). Excess reimbursement requests may be approved by the dean or chairperson within prescribed limits established by the vice chancellor's office. Any request above these limits must be submitted to the vice chancellor for approval. All deans or chairpersons reporting to the vice chancellor must submit excess reimbursement requests to that office for approval.

    Excess reimbursement requests must be approved at the same time the travel is authorized. Adequate documentation must be submitted to substantiate each request. This documentation should verify the following:

    1. The travel is entirely university business related.
    2. The travel is the most practical way to conduct the university business.
    3. Reasonable efforts have been made to keep the cost within statutory limits and to keep the number of travelers to a minimum.
    4. Travel expenses can be covered within budgeted travel line-items.

      On the Travel Authorization/Reimbursement for Travel form, estimate all anticipated expenses to be incurred. If the reimbursement exceeds the approved request total, or if travel arrangements have changed, the travel form must be changed. Tuition and registration must be shown on the travel form as an "other" expense (section 2, part 7). All available information on the tuition and/or registration fee must be submitted with the travel reimbursement form.

      No excess will be allowed for meals unless such costs are included in registration fees and/or there are predetermined charges. Requests for excess meal allowances may be documented by a published announcement or program of the meeting or seminar.

  9. Airline Ticket Authorization
    University employees are encouraged to use the most economical means of travel. There are airline web sites with great airfare. If the traveler chooses to make his/her own air travel arrangements, the traveler must pay with a credit card and be reimbursed AFTER the travel. Boarding passes are required in your travel reimbursement package. Employees are encouraged to apply for the ECU Procard for their travel needs.

    The Airline Ticket Authorization form was designed for use by university employees to help eliminate the need for travel advances. Prior approval is required for non-university employees to use this authorization form. Its use by non-university employees traveling on official business for the university will be considered if the travel would cause a financial hardship on the traveler, and/or it would be in the university's best interest to do so.

    The Travel request should be sent with the airline ticket authorization to the departmental chairperson or vice chancellor's office. The Travel Office will not pay for the ticket more than thirty days prior to the trip. Exception to this rule will be the use of the ECU Procard when there is a valid business purpose. The following procedures must be followed:
    1. The department will be responsible for making flight arrangements and filling out the form.
    2. The typed ticket authorization form must be sent for approval to the departmental chairperson or vice chancellor's office. White and yellow copies will be returned to the department. The department may exchange the white copy with the travel agency for the ticket. Quixote Travel has agreed to accept the ECU authorization form.
    3. The used airline ticket and boarding pass are to be included in with the travel reimbursement. The airline ticket authorization number should be typed on the travel reimbursement form in place of an amount.
    4. Non-business expenses such as family members or friends will not be reimbursed. Non-business expenses should be handled on your personal credit card and not an ECU Procard. Violators will receive a written warning and failure to reimburse the university within (10) business days will result in the expenses being deducted from your next payroll check.

  10. Travel Advances
    Travel advances may be issued when deemed necessary and approved by the appropriate departmental chairperson and/or vice chancellor. Please keep the following points in mind:
    1. Airline tickets and registration fees can be paid in advance by the State and should not be requested as part of the travel advance. Such requests may be made by completing part B of the Travel Advance form.
    2. Advances are issued for only 80 percent of the total cost of the approved travel advance request, less any prepayments.
    3. All advances must be deducted from the travel reimbursement. Travel reimbursement forms are to be submitted as soon as possible after completion of the travel, but no later than thirty days after the travel period.
    4. The travel advance check cannot be issued by the Department of Accounts Payable more than five working days prior to date of departure.
    5. Non-permanent employees may not receive travel advances.
    6. Students at state institutions who travel on official state business other than athletic events or student organizations and whose expenses are paid or reimbursed by the state are subject to these regulations, including statutory subsistence allowances, to the same extent as state employees. Travel by students for the purpose of participating in athletic contests and activities of student organizations must be paid from funds supporting the particular organization or activity.
    7. Travel advance requests should be submitted to the Travel Office two weeks prior to departure.
    8. Delinquent travel reimbursement requests or other abuses of the travel advance policy may result in the withdrawal of the travel advance privilege from the employee. The status of travel advances are checked periodically by the University Accounting Office and the Internal Audit Division.
    9. Travelers are notified of outstanding travel advances at 30 days. If no response is received, a payroll deduction will be made from the traveler or cosigner’s monthly payroll check as stated in the notification letter.

  11. Travel Reimbursement
    The original “Reimbursement for Travel” form must have original signatures of the traveler and department chair, or they will be returned. Immediately following the travel period, a Travel Authorization/ Reimbursement for Travel form should be completed. All requested information should be provided on the reimbursement form, and the travel advance request attached if necessary. Original itemized receipts are required for airline tickets, rental cars, parking claims, limousine, bus, or taxi fares, lodging, and registration fees. Requests for reimbursement must be filed within thirty days after completion of travel. Refer to state budget manual.

    The travel reimbursement form must contain the original signature and social security number of the traveler. All travelers requesting reimbursement involving a registration fee must submit with the reimbursement form the schedule of events, program, or itinerary of the seminar, conference, or meeting. Attach any supporting information concerning meals provided in the registration cost.

    The travel reimbursement must be stamped "Received by Accounts Payable East Carolina University" within thirty days after completion of the trip. Late reimbursement forms require written justification on the delinquent submission. Any requests after (30) days cannot be paid out of state funds. Please supply another type of funding.
    All travel, including grants, will follow state guidelines. The following sub-codes should be used when completing the reimbursement form:
     
  12.  

    In-State

    Out-of State

    Foreign

      Board/Nonemployee

    Transportation

     

     

     

     

     

    Air

    73201

    73205

     73209

    73262

     

    Ground

    73211

    73215

    73219

    73263

     

    Other

    73221

    73225

     73229

    73264

     

    Subsistence

     

     

     

     

     

    Lodging

    73231

    73235

    73239

    73282

     

    Meals

    73241

    73245

    73249

    73283

     

    Other

     

     

     

     

     

    (Baggage Tips/
    Telephone)

    73251

    73255

    73259

    73284

     

    Registration

    73551

    73552

    73553

    73554

     


    All forms for travel are available from the Central Supply Store.

     

    II. Transportation

  13. State Vehicle
    When traveling by car is determined to be feasible, a state car, when appropriate and available, should be used instead of a private car.

    State-owned cars shall be driven only by state employees and used only for official state business (G.S. 14-247 Private Use Of Publicly Owned Vehicles):

    It shall be unlawful for any officer, agent, or employee of the State of North Carolina, or of any county or of any institution or agency of the State, to use for any private purpose whatsoever any motor vehicle of any type or description whatsoever belonging to the State, or to any county, or to any institution or agency of the State. It shall be unlawful for any person to violate a rule or regulation adopted by the Department of Administration and approved by the Governor concerning the control of all state-owned passenger motor vehicles as provided in G.S. 143-341(8)I with the intent to defraud the State of North Carolina. (1925, c. 239, s.1: 1981, c. 859, ss.52; 1983, c. 717, s. 75.)

    A state employee is any individual working for the State of North Carolina who receives a state check for wages or salary with taxes withheld. Students (or any other individuals who are not state employees) cannot drive state cars for any purpose. Persons not employed by the State may accompany state employees who are driving state-owned vehicles when they have a compelling interest in the purpose of the trip and their presence is related to state business. Contracted persons may not drive a state car. Only state employees may drive state cars.

    When a state-owned car is used for official travel, all parking and storage fees, tolls, and required repairs are legitimate charges to the State, provided necessary receipts are obtained. Reimbursement of expenses for airport parking for both private and state-owned cars is limited to ninety-six hours, with receipt required. Parking expenses in excess of ninety-six hours may be reimbursed in extraordinary circumstances if advance approval is obtained.

    At the employee's destination, state cars may be used prudently for travel to obtain meals, but not for private purposes or for entertainment while off duty. No common carrier or public transportation fares are reimbursable for a trip on which an employee uses a state car, unless it is shown that such transportation was more economical in a particular situation.

    Hitchhikers are not permitted to ride in state-owned vehicles.

    State vehicles shall not be used by employees who are on vacation status.

  14. Private Cars
    When travel by car is determined to be feasible, a state-owned vehicle, when available, should be used instead of a private vehicle. Please check with your department and Motor pool to determine if a state car is available. If requesting reimbursement by private vehicle please include written documentation from your department and the Motor Pool office that a state car was not available.

    Actual mileage is reimbursable. Mileage is measured from the closer of duty station or point of departure to destination (and return). The business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service (58.5 cents per mile effective July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008) will be paid. Parking fees, tolls, and storage fees are reimbursable. Itemized receipts are required. However, if a state employee chooses to use a personal vehicle when a state-owned vehicle is available, all departments and agencies will reimburse the employee at the motor fleet rate for mileage (33 cents per mile effective July 1, 2008). Refer to state budget manual.


  15. Commercial Airlines
    Tickets for commercial air travel may be purchased on your American Express Corporate Card or personal credit card by the traveler and reimbursement claimed on the travel reimbursement form AFTER the travel. Reimbursement cannot be claimed for any purchases on the ECU Procard. A receipt copy of the ticket and boarding passes must be attached; the credit card charge form “summary draft” will not suffice. The airline ticket receipt must show the dates of the travel, the cost of the ticket, and/or the travel itinerary.

    Upgrades and Non-refundable tickets. Written justification must be included in your travel reimbursement for upgrade charges and cancellation of tickets with no refunds. Please include the “Business Purpose” for the upgrades and the reason for cancellation of non-refundable trips. Non-refundable tickets cannot be paid by state funds. Please supply another type of funding

    Penalties and charges resulting from the cancellation of airline reservations (or other travel reservations) shall be the university's obligation if the employee's travel has been approved in advance and the cancellation or change is made at the discretion of, and for the convenience of, the department. If the cancellation or change is made for the personal benefit of the employee, it shall be the employee's obligation to pay the penalties and charges. However, in the event of accidents, serious illness, or death within the employee's immediate family, or other critical circumstances beyond the control of the employee, the department will be obligated to pay the penalties and charges.

    Super Saver Rates: When traveling by common carrier to conduct official state business, employees traveling to their destination earlier than necessary and/or delaying their return to avail the state of reduced transportation rates may be reimbursed subsistence for additional travel days if the amount saved in transportation costs due to the early and/or delayed travel is greater than the value of lost productivity and additional subsistence. The amount of savings must be documented with a statement from the airline company agent specifying the amount of funds saved by using the delayed travel option. This statement should be attached to the special travel request. Prior approval is required. Frequent Flyer Miles earned by a state employee while traveling on state business at state expense are the property of the state. Frequent flyer miles accumulated by an individual state employee during previous state business trips should, to the extent possible, be used by the state employee accumulating the frequent flyer miles while traveling on future state business trips. Coupons or certificates for reduced air fare if acquired by a state employee while traveling on state business at state expense are the property of the State and should be used, to the extent possible, by the state employee on future state business trips.

    Reimbursement for airport parking and for travel between the employee's duty station and the nearest airline terminal is limited to a maximum of two round trips with no parking charge, or one round trip with a parking charge for a maximum of ninety-six hours. Parking charges exceeding the ninety-six-hour maximum are reimbursable if the total mileage and parking charge does not exceed the mileage cost of two round trips with no parking charges. Receipts are required for airport parking claims.

  16. Charter Aircraft
    The use of charter aircraft may be approved by the department head provided the following is substantiated and put in writing:
    1. A state aircraft is not available or not appropriate for the size of the party traveling or the destination airport
    2. The use of a charter flight is more economical than a commercial flight
    3. The use of a charter flight is necessary because of unusual circumstances

  17. Transportation by Use of Aircraft Owned by a State Employee
    Reimbursement for costs incurred in the use of aircraft, owned by a state employee, on official state business may be approved by the department head or his designee, provided the following is substantiated and put in writing:
    1. The use of the aircraft owned by a state employee is necessary because of unusual travel circumstances and is not for the sole convenience of the employee who ownes the plane.
    2. The use of the aircraft, owned by a state employee, at the rates published below is cheaper than any other method of air travel.
    3. The allowable reimbursement rate for aircraft owned by a state employee is $.68 per mile per passenger.

  18. Taxis and Limousines
    The use of taxis and limousines must be approved by the department head. The actual costs of taxi and limousine fares are reimbursable when required for travel on state business. Taxi fares are not reimbursable for inter-city transportation, except when no less expensive mode of transportation is available within a reasonable period. You must have the name, address, and phone number of the cab company on a receipt signed by the taxi driver for each trip.

    Reimbursement for taxi or shuttle from the airport to the meeting hotel and for the return trip will be at actual costs with receipts required.

  19. Rental Cars
    Written justification must be included in your travel package for the use of rental cars. Rental car charges at the least expensive available rate are reimbursable when required for inter-city travel when no other available mode of transportation is practical. No reimbursement may be made for in-state use of a rental car when a state car or a private car is available. Requests for the use of a rental car must be approved in advance and a credit card obtained from the Department of Materials Management. The traveler may use a personal credit card and be reimbursed after the trip. The university will not be responsible for insurance charges, and reimbursement is not allowed for such charges. When renting cars inside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, DO NOT accept any type of add on insurance. Employees are covered by insurance per Risk Management. Coverage does not extend to foreign countries, and ECU does allow reimbursement on the cost of the Collision Damage Waiver.

    The following travel expenses related to car rentals are not reimbursable to the traveler by the University:
    1. Collision Damage Waiver – Since the State of North Carolina is a self-insurer; this insurance coverage is not required for state employees. A traveler choosing to pay for this type coverage will not be reimbursed by ECU. If the traveler is involved in an accident with a rental car, and the possibility of a collision damage claim exists, he or she should contact the Insurance and Risk Manager at 328-6858.
    2. Personal Accident Insurance – Acceptance of this insurance by the traveler will result in an additional fee or surcharge and is considered personal insurance. Travelers choosing to pay for this coverage will not be reimbursed by ECU.

  20. Parking and Tolls
    Parking and tolls are reimbursable when incurred while traveling on official state business. Parking charges at an airline terminal are limited to a ninety-six-hour period unless conditions set forth in Section IIC are met. Receipts are required.