Date Established: 12/4/2017
Date Last Updated:
Administration and Governance
Vice President for Finance and Administration
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The University at Buffalo allows for the use of State, University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc., and Research Foundation funds for the payment of reasonable and appropriate expenses incurred while conducting official university business.
The University at Buffalo (UB, university) is entrusted with funds provided by various constituencies. Employees who incur or approve expenses must exercise prudent judgment to ensure that the expenses are for legitimate university business and comply with the appropriate allowability criteria. Employees are responsible for ensuring the appropriate use of funds within the constraints of limited resources.
The Allowable Use of Funds Policy governs the payment of expenditures incurred or approved by employees on behalf of the university. All expenditures funded with State, University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF), and Research Foundation (RF) accounts must be appropriate, reasonable, allowable, and allocable; they also must support the education, research, and public service missions of the university.
All university departments must implement a system of supervisory checks and balances to ensure expenditures always meet university interests. Expenditures paid from various funding sources are subject to specific requirements for use. Details regarding the use of State, UBF, RF non-sponsored, and RF sponsored funds are found in the Allowable Use of Funds Chart. The appropriate funding source is determined by the type of the expense, not by the employee’s source of payroll. Units may apply this policy more restrictively where budget and other factors are considered. Additional restrictions established at the operating unit level supersede this policy and corresponding chart.
The terms and conditions of a sponsored award dictate the use of RF funds derived from that sponsored award. Each awarding mechanism (e.g., grant, contract, or cooperative agreement) is issued with guidance on the use of funding. Expenditures for sponsored activity must be allowable, reasonable, and allocable to the project.
Each sponsor provides unique terms and conditions for their award classes or sponsored programs. To ensure compliance with sponsor terms, faculty and staff may contact Sponsored Projects Services (SPS) when unsure about the terms that govern their sponsored awards. Expenditures deemed unallowable by the sponsor or an auditor will be treated under the Financial Responsibility for Sponsored Projects policy.
Prior approval and/or justification may be required for the following expenditures:
Expenditures in excess of the approved project budget require use of non-sponsored funds. In these instances, the RF non-sponsored guidelines are applicable.
The maximum allowable amount for individual reimbursement is $2,500 for any single item or total aggregate cost (excluding travel). Requests in excess of this amount follow the procurement guidelines.
When incurring expenses for the purchase of food and beverages categorized as Internal Business Meals on the corresponding Allowable Use of Funds Chart, reimbursement is limited to the per diem as determined by U.S. General Services Administration.
Amounts in excess of per diem limits are considered an exception and require the appropriate exception approval.
A maximum gratuity charge of 20 percent of the pre-tax total is permitted. If per diem is applicable (i.e., Internal Business Meals), the gratuity must be covered by the per diem maximum.
State and RF funds may not be used to pay for alcoholic beverages. RF sponsored funds may be used for alcoholic beverages only if specifically approved by the sponsor. Per person reimbursement for alcoholic beverages is restricted to the lesser of the cost of two alcoholic beverages or $15. Alcohol reimbursements must be supported by an itemized receipt.
Best efforts should be made to use the New York State (NYS) sales tax exemption certificates. Reimbursement for sales tax expenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis when the expense appears to be otherwise unavoidable. RF sponsored funds will not be used to cover sales tax expenses.
Three options to request reimbursement/payment of allowable expenses are available:
Documentation must accompany payment requests and include the following:
In addition to the items listed above, gift card expenses for human research subjects require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Tax documentation (W9) is required for all cards issued in excess of $50.
Special circumstances may allow for exceptions on a case-by-case basis. An exception request must be initiated at the departmental level. All policy exceptions require pre-approval from the Unit Business Officer (UBO) or the RF Operations Manager (OM) (for SPS and RF non-sponsored funds). Pre-approval must be requested with reasonable notice as established by each UBO or the OM. The approver of the exception must not have attended or have incurred, in any way, the subject expenditure. To the extent that the UBO or OM was in attendance or personally incurred the subject expenditure, the approval must be advanced to the next highest approval authority.
All exceptions to the terms of sponsored activities require strong justification and prior approval from the sponsor. Requests must be made through SPS.
Exception requests must be documented using the Allowable Use of Funds Policy – Exception Request Form.
Individuals making decisions concerning expenditures of university funds have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations while supporting the university’s missions of education, research, and public service. This policy provides strict rules around that decision making process.
This policy applies to all university faculty, staff, and student employees who make decisions regarding the use of funds for the purchase of food, beverages, gifts, admission/registration fees, and professional memberships.
Separate policies govern the allowable use of funds for specific purposes:
The amount of expense for goods or services which can be charged (or allocated) to a particular unit, activity, or function because the goods or services provide a commensurate benefit to that unit, activity, or function.
An expense is allowable when it is permissible to charge it to a particular source of funds. Expenses may be deemed allowable by law or regulation; by external parties such as donors or sponsors; or by university policy.
An individual with the authority to approve a business expense or transaction.
Charges for goods or services, whether paid, committed, or accrued, that foster or support the ongoing missions of the university.
The primary purpose of business entertainment is to further business relations; business entertainment is smaller in scale, includes a small number of people, and is fairly low cost; (e.g., business lunches or dinners; tickets to athletic, cultural, or other events).
A meal attended by faculty, staff, or students, which may or may not include individuals from outside UB, at which a substantive and bona fide business discussion takes place.
In support of the goals, objectives, and mission of the university.
Individuals who benefit from goods or services paid for with UB funds but do not have a defined affiliation with the university.
Person(s) invited to visit the university or take part in a function organized by the university; the guest visit must be related to a business purpose and support the mission of the university.
The spouse, children (son or daughter), and parents of a staff, faculty, or student employee.
Individuals that benefit from a good or services paid for with UB funds while maintaining the status of faculty, staff, student, student employee, appointed volunteer, or honoraria.
Those costs which a prudent person would have incurred under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision to incur the cost was made; consider how the public would view the expense if reported in the media.
RF Funded Revenue (also called indirect costs)
Funds generated through the recovery of indirect (facilities and administrative (F&A)) costs charged on sponsored accounts, and distributed per the campus Financial Plan.
The vice president, vice provost, dean, or their designee with authority over and responsibility for the unit.
Include State Operating, Income Fund Reimbursable (IFR), State University Tuition Reimbursable Account (SUTRA), and Dormitory Income Fund Reimbursable (DIFR) funds.