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University Business-Related Travel

  • Responsible Office: Procurement Services, Finance and Budget
  • Current Approved Version: 04/30/2020
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

Travel expenses made by individuals on official university business must be reasonable, necessary, and represent an efficient use of resources. Individuals must seek ways to reduce the travel cost whenever possible. Individuals traveling on behalf of the university should exercise good judgment with respect to incurring travel expenses and are expected to spend all university funds prudently. The university pays/reimburses travel expenses for official university business, provided such expenses are deemed to be reasonable, appropriately documented and properly authorized. It is the responsibility of the traveler to comply with the university’s policies governing travel.

University departments must communicate the travel policies, regulations and procedures to anyone who travels on university business. The university assumes no obligation to reimburse employees, students or non-employees for expenses that are not properly authorized and in compliance with this policy.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited. 

Who Should Know This Policy

University employees (including faculty), non-employees and students seeking reimbursement from any VCU funding source are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.

Definitions

Authorized Approver

An individual with authority to expend the source of funds being used to pay the travel expense.

Mandatory Sources

The university is required to use these sources for certain goods and services as designated in the applicable contract.

Official Work Station

The area within a 25-mile radius of an employee’s designated place, office, or building where the traveler performs their duties base point. 

Contacts

The Office of Procurement Services officially interprets this policy. Procurement Services is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to Procurement Services, travel and corporate card manager. 

Policy Specifics and Procedures

1. Traveler’s Responsibilities:

Prior to traveling, it is the traveler’s responsibility to understand the limitations and requirements pertaining to official university travel. These requirements are in accordance with federal, IRS and Tier III travel guidelines. Allowable rates (e.g., meals, lodging, etc.) fluctuate based on location and/or travel dates. The use of state funds to accommodate personal comfort, convenience, and taste is not permitted.

2. Obtain Pre-trip Approval:

Travelers who are employees of the university must obtain prior authorization from their authorized approver for any trip in which the total cost is estimated to exceed $500. This procedure for obtaining pre-trip approval can be found in the Pre-Approval Helpful Hints document listed in the Related Documents section below.

An authorized approver should be the traveler’s direct supervisor, cannot be the individual seeking pre-approval or reimbursement, and must always move up the chain of command from the expense owner, not down, to prevent the situation of a subordinate approving a supervisor’s expenses. 

3. Mandatory Travel Contract:

VCU employees are required to book air and rail tickets for official business using university funds through the university’s contracted travel management company.

4. Travel Routing:

Travel routing, whether by public transportation, privately-owned vehicle, state-owned vehicle or for-hire conveyance, shall be the most direct, practicable route.

5. Lodging:

Lodging may be reimbursed when an individual is traveling overnight on official business outside the individual’s official work station. Lodging rates is limited to actual expenses incurred up to 100 percent over the CONUS and OCONUS rates, plus taxes and surcharges.

6. Meal Per Diem:

Meals and certain incidental travel expenses are paid on a per diem basis (not actual expenses) for overnight official business travel outside the traveler’s official work station. The meal limits follow the CONUS and OCONUS travel charts and is payable to the traveler without the necessity of retaining or presenting receipts evidencing the expense.

7. Request Reimbursement:

Travelers who paid for pre-authorized, reasonable business-related travel expenses with personal funds are to be reimbursed. Reimbursement requests must be submitted as soon as possible upon return from travel through the university’s electronic reimbursement system. All reimbursement requests must be accompanied by receipts and/or supporting documentation. 

Forms

There are no forms associated with this policy.

Related Documents

VCU Travel Guidelines and Procedures
https://procurement.vcu.edu/media/procurement/pdf/documentlibrary/TravelGuidelinesandProcedures.pdf

New Traveler Quick Tips 
https://procurement.vcu.edu/media/procurement/pdf/documentlibrary/New_Traveler_Quick_Tips.pdf

Non-employee Cheat Sheet
https://procurement.vcu.edu/media/procurement/pdf/document-library/PreApproval_HelpfulHints.pdf

CONUS & OCONUS Per Diem Rates
https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
January 15, 2011 University Business Travel
April 16, 2013 University Business Travel
April 13, 2017 University Business-Related Travel


FAQ

  1. When is a pre-trip approval required?

    Any time an employee travels and the expenses associated with the travel are expected to exceed $500 (inclusive of all reimbursable and direct-billed expenses).

  2. Does my department need to keep the paper receipts?

    At minimum, departments should keep paper receipts until the traveler has received payment. Paper receipts should be retained longer to comply with department policy or grant requirements.