General

Q: I heard that we will be using an automated system for travel planning and expense processing. Why don’t we start the new policy with the new system?

A: The new travel policy was implemented in advance to allow for learning and practical application prior to incorporating into an automated system.

Q: Preferred Vendors - Who are the preferred providers? How were they selected?

A: The University from time to time enters into contractual agreements with vendors to obtain favorable pricing, higher levels of service, or benefits for our University community. See information related to our preferred vendors.

Q: I’m confused about what airlines I can use when traveling on a federal grant.

A: Travelers who are funded by federal grants are required under the "Fly America Act," to use United States air carrier service for all air travel and cargo transportation services funded by the United States Government. More information can be found at http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103191.

Q: The policy says travel expenses for spouses/partners and family members are not covered by the University. Is that the same for sabbatical travel?

A: In general, Sabbatical travel is governed primarily by BTP. Any additional arrangements regarding a particular sabbatical are reviewed and determined in coordination with the Provost’s office.

Meals

Q: What documentation is required to accompany the travel expense report related to Conference Travel and meals?

A: To aid your supervisor in the approval process, it is recommended that a copy of the agenda be attached to the reimbursement request.

Q: What documentation is required to accompany the travel expense report?

A: Bucknell requires receipts for airline tickets, lodging, rental vehicles, hostess gifts, conference registration fees, meals and miscellaneous expenses greater than $25.

Regardless of the amount, the business purpose of the expense must be provided for each transaction. The business purpose can be written on the Travel Expense Form or the individual receipt.

Sufficient evidence of business purpose should include:

  • List of attendees (self if alone)
  • Description of business purpose, topics discussed
  • Description of meal (i.e., lunch, dinner)
  • Description of entertainment (i.e., theatre)
  • Conference itinerary where applicable

A valid receipt is one that indicates the following:

  • Vendor
  • Date
  • Location
  • Amount and tender of payment
  • Description of materials, service, meal, entertainment, etc.

Note: Credit card summary slips and credit card statements are not valid receipts.

Q: Who will be reviewing that meals are not reimbursed if part of the conference fee?

A: Compliance with this or any policy is the responsibility of the individual and the supervisors who approve travel expenses. The Finance Office will also periodically audit expense reports to ensure consistent application of the policy.

Q: Why can’t I be reimbursed for meals purchased during meal periods when a conference also provides meals?

A: This policy is consistent with the University’s desire to spend our limited travel funds in direct support of the University’s mission with moderation and discretion.

Q: Why is alcohol not permitted in conjunction with meals for individual travelers – is this a change in policy?

A: This policy is consistent with the University’s desire to spend our limited travel funds in direct support of the University’s mission with moderation and discretion. This is a change in policy for some areas and will now provide consistency across the University.

Q: What does the meal allowance mean? Is this the same as a per diem? When and why do I need to provide receipts?

A: The meal allowance establishes a University standard for meal purchases for all travelers. This standard is meant to inform travelers as they make purchasing decisions. This is NOT a per diem. Receipts are required for all meals in excess of $25 consistent with the rest of the travel policy.

Q: If I am meeting over a meal with a group of colleagues prior to or after an event/meeting, is the cost of my meal subject to the $50/$75 per day meal allowance?

A: No, these types of meetings normally have a business component and would fall under the meals with internal constituents section of the policy.

Q: A friend is providing my overnight accommodations in lieu of a hotel. If I take him/her out to dinner as the host gift, is my part of that meal subject to the $50/$75 day meal allowance?

A: Yes, your individual meal cost would be considered a meal for the individual traveler regardless of eating with the host.

Q: A friend is providing my overnight accommodations in lieu of a hotel. Due to my travel schedule, I am unable to take him/her out for a meal as the hostess gift. Can I buy her a restaurant gift card?

A: No, a gift card is considered a “cash” gift and would be subject to requirements for IRS financial reporting (Social Security number, address, etc.) One alternative to consider is a gift basket from a local vendor.

Q: Can I have an alcoholic drink with my individual meal and charge it to my Bucknell Visa card, then settle it to my Bucknell account later?

A: Yes, you can pay for the entire bill and then mark the charges as personal (codes 44015/7118) when reviewing in payment net. Note that you will need to calculate the portion of the tax and tip related to the alcohol purchase when determining the personal portion of the expense.

Q: Can I provide a receipt for reimbursement that includes alcohol with an individual meal and just request payment of the meal portion?

A: Yes, but you will need to calculate the tax and tip related to the alcohol purchase and subtract that from the total as well.

Q: What happens if I exceed the meal allowance?

A: To seek an exception, you should request approval from the supervisor approving your expenses by documenting the circumstances of the trip, and the need for additional meal reimbursement. Without an approved exception, you may be personally responsible for the expenses that exceed the allowance.

Reimbursement Process

Q: Why must I request my travel reimbursement within 14 days of the last day of my trip?

A: The University requests a timely request for reimbursement to ensure the traveler is made whole in a timely fashion, financial report for our expenditures is updated, and to reconcile outstanding funds advanced by the University.

Q: Business Purpose Documentation - What does this mean?

A: Sufficient evidence of business purpose should include:

  • List of attendees (self if alone)
  • Description of business purpose, topics discussed
  • Description of meal (i.e., lunch, dinner)
  • Description of entertainment (i.e., theatre)
  • Conference itinerary where applicable

Q: If I don’t have to provide a receipt for expenses under $25, what information do I need to provide?

A: Regardless of the amount, the business purpose of the expense must be provided for each transaction. The business purpose can be written on the Travel Expense Form or the individual receipt. What defines business purpose is described in the question above.

Approvals

Q: Who is authorized to approve expenses, who is responsible to review documentation, and what is the function of the Finance Office in this review process?

A: Compliance with this or any policy is the responsibility of the individual and the supervisors who approve travel expenses. The Finance Office will also periodically audit expense reports to ensure consistent application of the policy.

Q: As someone who approves travel expense reports, what are my responsibilities?

A: Supervisors should verify that the trip was in support of the University’s mission and the expenses incurred are within the policies established by the University.

Q: We have always had the Assistant in our department review and approve all travel reports for our department? Why must that change?

A: As a supervisor, you are the primary approver of travel requests and the reimbursements sought as a result of the travel. You may designate someone to assist you in this process but the final approvals from you as the supervisor ensure proper fiscal management and budget adherence.

Q: As a department chair, can I designate my academic assistant to approve all travel expense reports for the department except mine?

A: You may designate someone to assist you in this process but the final approvals from you as the supervisor ensure proper fiscal management and budget adherence.

Q: Can I have a colleague from another department approve my expense report if he/she does not report to me in any way?

A: No, your immediate supervisor and/or the person funding the trip should be your primary approver.

Q: What happens if I need to fly something other than economy/coach?

A: Exceptions to the BTP must be authorized by a member of the Operations Management Group or their designee. Any request for an exception must document the circumstances and need for the exception as well as provide evidence that the costs were ordinary and necessary under the circumstances. Any exceptions to a BTP should be coordinated through your immediate supervisor.

Q: Who approves using surface transportation rather than air travel?

A: Your immediate supervisor and/or the person funding the trip should be your primary approver.

Cash Advances

Q: Why is there a minimum cash advance of $50?

A: The University expects that individual travelers will pay any minor out of pocket expense (i.e. tolls) and that Cash Advances are to only be used for significant expenses where only cash is acceptable. Cash advances should only be required in limited instances and the need for them well documented.

Q: Why can’t I have another advance if I have not completed or returned my expense report for a previous advance?

A: All University funds are to be managed in a controlled manner consistent with our policies and IRS guidelines. Proper closure of previous Cash Advances ensure proper financial controls of the University’s limited funds.

Q: If I do not have a University travel card, must I use a personal credit card when on University business, or can I use cash?

A: You can use cash and request reimbursement from the University for approved business expenses.

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