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New travel policy questions answered

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 13 - November 17, 1994

Larry Lawrence, manager of accounting services, has provided answers to the most frequently asked questions about recent travel changes.

Q: To what offices should requests for approvals be made?

A: Travel over $500 and all overnight conference travel must be approved first by the vice president or dean and then by the executive vice president.

Q: How do you obtain exceptions to lodging and meal limits?

A: The department head must recommend the exceptions for approval and the Controller's Office must approve. Exceptions to the lodging limit should be approved in advance of the trip to ensure reimbursement of the higher amount.

Q: How do you obtain authorization for business meals?

A: The department head must recommend the meals for approval and the Controller's Office must then approve the request.

Answers to other questions:

Q: What form(s) must be completed before travel?

A: The Interim Travel Approval Form must be completed and approved for ALL travel involving OVERNIGHT conferences and conventions. Approved forms are used to track the number of university employees attending conferences and conventions in order to comply with the limit specified by the executive memorandum. Forms must be completed for students, conferences costing less than $500, people traveling on sponsored monies, officers of the organization, and people presenting papers. Currently there are NO exceptions for submitting the approval form for conferences and conventions involving overnight travel.

Q: Must forms be completed for visitors?

A: Travel approval forms DO have to be completed for ALL visitors, including international guests and interviewees.

Q: What should go on the line asking for "Funding Source" on the Interim Travel Approval Form?

A: Enter the FRS account number in the "Funding Source" line.

Q: If part of the costs of meals and/or lodging is disallowed, can it be charged to a Virginia Tech Foundation account?

A: Yes, departments may charge the disallowed costs of meals and lodging to a Virginia Tech Foundation account.

Q: What rate should be used if no rate is listed in the Meal and Lodging Table?

A: If the rate for a city is not listed in the Meal and Lodging table, use the "Standard" rate found on the first line of the table.

Q: Is reimbursement available for meals taken on single-day trips?

A: People who travel on single-day trips may be reimbursed for their meals taken during overtime hours. That is, if a traveler returns after 7:30 p.m. and his or her workday is scheduled to end at 5 p.m., the evening meal is reimbursable and is not subject to taxes. The same applies to breakfast when a person must, of necessity, leave before 6:30 a.m. The lunch meal may not be reimbursed for single-day travel. This policy applies to all employees whether exempt or non- exempt from the payment of overtime pay. It is the department head's responsibility to authorize the meal expense. A note must be provided on the voucher to indicate the employee was in overtime status. The department head's approval of the voucher provides the authorization to pay for the meals.

Q: Do the rates in the meal and lodging table include taxes and tips?

A: The rates in the lodging and meal guideline tables include all taxes and tips.

Q: May traveler's checks be charged to travelers' American Express Cards?

A: An approved Interim Travel Approval Form must be presented before traveler's checks can be charged to travelers' American Express Cards.

Q: Do these guidelines apply to business meetings, training sessions, and workshops Virginia Tech personnel set up?

A: In the spirit of the executive memorandum (EM), people setting up business meetings, training sessions, and workshops, should use the meal and lodging guidelines for planning purposes. If departments are unable to obtain services for the rates listed in the tables, the department head can request that the limit be increased by 50 percent. It is the intent of the EM that no unnecessary or extravagant services be contracted for by the state. Requests for higher limits are to be made to the Controller's Office.

Accounting services will continue to keep university personnel informed as additional information and direction is received from the state offices. For more information or answers to other questions, call Nellie Keffer at 1-8625 or Roger Thomas at 1-