University at Buffalo Crest.

Policy Information

Date Established: 11/18/2019
Date Last Updated: 7/26/2021
Category:
Administration and Governance
Responsible Office:
Financial Management
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Contents

Travel Policy

Summary

The University at Buffalo pays for the reasonable business expenses actually incurred by individuals traveling on official university business in accordance with New York State, Research Foundation, and UB Foundation rules and regulations.

Policy Statement

The University at Buffalo (UB, university) will reimburse individuals for actual, reasonable, necessary, appropriate, cost-effective, and approved travel and business expenses incurred while conducting university business. Reimbursement for travel and business expenses may be paid from State, Research Foundation (RF), or UB Foundation (UBF) funds and must comply with the requirements detailed in the Travel Policy Charts.

Reimbursement

The traveler must submit an Expense Report to obtain reimbursement for their travel-related expenses through the travel and expense reimbursement system.

Expense Report Submission Time Limit

The traveler should submit the Expense Report for processing within thirty days after the last day of travel. University fiscal year-end (June 30) reporting may require an Expense Report to be submitted less than thirty days after the last day of travel. When an Expense Report is submitted more than 120 days after the last day of travel, the traveler must complete the Policy Exception Request.

Expense Reports submitted more than thirty days after the last day of travel may be treated as taxable and reported on the employee’s W-2.

Supervisor and Cost Approval

The traveler’s supervisor must approve the traveler’s Expense Report. Supervisor approval authority may be delegated only if the supervisor is unable to fulfill this responsibility as a result of extraordinary circumstances (e.g., extended vacation, disability leave, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), sabbatical). The delegation of supervisor approval authority:

  • Must be at the same professional level or one level up
  • Must not allow an employee to approve the expenses of their supervisor

The Expense Report also requires cost approval. A supervisor may be a cost approver if they have signature authority on the account used for reimbursement. Cost approver delegation is not permitted. Cost approvers must have authorized security access in the travel and expense reimbursement system.

Exceptions

Circumstances may allow for certain exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The Policy Exception Request must be initiated by the traveler and approved by the individual authorized to approve the traveler’s Expense Report. The Policy Exception Request must also be approved by the Unit Business Officer (UBO) for State and UBF funds or the RF Operations Manager (OM) for RF sponsored and non-sponsored funds, as appropriate.

Background

The University at Buffalo understands that travel is essential to the teaching, research, and public service missions of the university. UB is committed to meeting the needs of the traveler by reimbursing reasonable business expenses actually incurred by the traveler. To accomplish this, the university must establish cost effective practices that are consistently applied and comply with State, sponsor, and regulatory requirements.

Applicability

This policy applies to all travelers and travel expenses reimbursed and paid from State, RF, and UBF funds.

Definitions

Cost Approver

Role assigned to individuals officially designated as authorized signatories on accounts.

Official Station

Official station is generally the address of the office to which the employee is assigned; an employee can have only one official station. The designation of official station is determined by the university in the best interest of the university and not for the convenience of the employee. The purpose of the official station is to determine when the traveler is in travel status and eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses. Travel between the employee’s home and official station is considered commuting and is not reimbursable.

Supervisor

Role assigned to individual officially designated as the employee’s time and attendance supervisor. Generally, the supervisor is one level senior to the employee.

Traveler

Individual who travels on behalf of UB.

Travel Status

A traveler is in travel status (i.e., eligible for reimbursement of lodging and meal expenses) when they are engaged in official university business at a distance of more than 35 miles from the designated official station and place of residence.

Responsibility

Cost Approver

  • Establish a prior approval process for travel, if applicable.
  • Communicate funding restrictions for individuals, if applicable.
  • Verify the traveler’s relationship to the account or grant.
  • Verify that travel reimbursement is within allowable rates and all required documentation is included.
  • Ensure university travel rules and regulations are appropriate to the funding source (i.e., State, RF, UBF, and sponsor requirements).
  • Approve Expense Reports in the travel and expense reporting system in a timely manner.

Supervisor

  • Be familiar with university travel rules and regulations appropriate to the funding source (i.e., State, RF, UBF, and sponsor requirements).
  • Obtain necessary prior approvals for travel, including method of travel, if applicable.
  • Authorize travel that is reasonable, necessary, appropriate, and required in the performance of university business.
  • Review traveler Expense Reports to verify that expenses:
    • Are consistent with a pre-approved travel request
    • Were incurred while conducting university business
    • Are a prudent use of university funds
  • Approve Expense Reports in the travel and expense reporting system in a timely manner.
  • Approve the Policy Exception Request, as appropriate.

Unit Business Officer (UBO)

  • Approve the Policy Exception Request, as appropriate.

Traveler

  • Obtain necessary prior approvals for travel, including method of travel.
  • Secure reasonable, necessary, and appropriate method of travel.
  • Utilize all tax exempt certificates, as necessary.
  • Maintain an accurate record of expenses by scanning or downloading original receipts or documentation (e.g., transportation itinerary, hotel receipts, parking).
  • Claim reimbursement only for actual allowed business expenses within reimbursement rates.
  • Use credit card programs to minimize out-of-pocket expenses, as applicable.
  • Account for any advance reimbursement received prior to travel, or charges made to a university credit card.
  • Prepare the Expense Report in the travel and expense reimbursement system based on the traveler’s itinerary, receipts, and documentation.
  • Verify that reimbursement requested complies with university travel policy and departmental restrictions.
  • Submit the Expense Report for processing within thirty days following the last day of travel.
    • Only the traveler may submit their Expense Report.
  • Complete the Policy Exception Request when the Expense Report is submitted more than 120 days following the last day of travel.

Travel Services for State and RF, Accounts Payable for UB Foundation

  • Review and process Expense Reports in the travel and expense reimbursement system.
    • Ensure that all expenses are actual, reasonable, in accordance with the business purpose of the trip, and comply with State, UB, RF, and UBF rules and regulations.
    • Review for accuracy, rates, and relation to trip.
    • Comply with Internal Revenue Services (IRS) regulations for identifying non-overnight meals.
    • Verify official station, as necessary.
  • Obtain the Policy Exception Request from the traveler, as needed.
  • Respond to travel-related questions and provide guidance.
  • Provide training on travel procedures and rates.

Sponsored Projects Services (SPS)

  • Verify travel is allowed, funding is available, and travel falls within the grant dates when using an RF sponsored grant as the funding source.

Research Foundation Operations Manager

  • Approve the Policy Exception Request, as appropriate.

Contact Information

Contact An Expert

Funding Source

Contact

Phone

Email

State and Research Foundation

Meg Mitchell

716-645-4535

ubtravel@buffalo.edu

UB Foundation

Rosemarie Dommer

716-645-8749

ubf-ap@buffalo.edu

Sponsored Projects Services
Mary Kraft 716-645-4420 mekraft@buffalo.edu

Related Information

University Links

Forms

Related Links

History

 

Policy Revision History

July 2021 Interim policy revision made permanent.
October 2020

Interim policy revision. Updated the policy to:
● Add language in the policy statement to allow exceptions in certain circumstances
● Require travelers to complete the Policy Exception Request when the Expense Report is submitted more than 120 days after the last day of travel
● Add a responsibility to:
▫  Require the traveler's supervisor, UBO, or RF OM to approve the Policy Exception Request, as appropriate
▫ Require Travel Services for State and RF and Accounts Payable for UBF to obtain the Policy Exception Request from the traveler, as appropriate

 

Updated the Travel Policy Charts to require the traveler to complete the Policy Exception Request when the Expense Report is submitted more than 120 days after the last day of travel.  

June 2020 Updated the Travel Policy Charts to clarify reimbursement of spousal travel expenses when part of student, guest, or candidate travel:
● State - reimbursement of spousal travel expenses is not allowed
● RF - spousal travel expenses may be reimbursed only when allowed by the sponsor and budgeted in the grant
● UBF - a candidate's spousal travel expenses may be reimbursed; the request for reimbursement must be approved by the UBO prior to making travel arrangements
March 2020

Revised the policy statement to include "cost-effective" in the requirements for reimbursement of travel and business expenses.

 

Updated the Travel Policy Charts to specify that lodging and meal reimbursement may not be requested if you are staying in your personal residence. Your personal residence includes your home address as well as a remote residence that you own.

January 2020 Updated the Travel Policy Charts to clarify that when employees are traveling on RF funds, NYS taxes are not reimbursable; this applies to sales tax, hotel occupancy taxes, and NYS taxes on car rentals and hotels.

Presidential Approval

Signed by President Satish K. Tripathi

Satish K. Tripathi, President

7/26/2021

Date