Binding City Policy
The purpose of this administrative rule is to communicate the City’s policy for travel and describe the procedures to be used for reimbursable expenses. The policy is consistent with the Internal Revenue Service regulations for travel payment.
Authority for this administrative rule is established in the City Charter and the City Code. This administrative rule has been approved by the City Council.
The Accounting Division of the Bureau of Financial Services of the Office of Management and Finance will periodically monitor and assess compliance with this rule. If instances of non-compliance are identified, bureaus will be required to develop and implement a corrective plan. The Accounting Division will, if requested, provide assistance to develop this plan. The Controller will report all identified instances of non-compliance annually to the Chief Financial Officer.
“Commuting expenses” means the costs of traveling between an employee’s primary place of residence and the employee’s main or regular place of work.
“Contemporaneous record” means a record prepared at or near the time of the expenditure or use. A contemporaneous record may be an account book, a log book or similar record and must include the date, amount, name and location of the vendor, and purpose of the expense.
“Local travel” means travel on City business away from the regular work place or residence that does not require an overnight stay.
“Out-of-town travel” means travel on City business away from the regular work place or residence that does require an overnight stay.
1. Proper Use of Public Monies
Travel for City business may include conventions, conferences, meetings of professional associations, training and meetings with others from which the City will derive benefit through the attendance of a representative.
City employees should exercise good judgment, regard for economy and recognition of proper use of public monies while traveling and incurring expenses in connection with City business. Employees and their managers should consider telecommunications as an alternative to travel when appropriate. Managers should limit the number of employees attending the same event and will, to the extent practical, develop methods to share the information gathered with other employees.
Expenses requested for reimbursement or payment by the City (other than meal and incidental expense per diem) must be documented with a receipt or contemporaneous record. All expenses must be clearly related to the conduct of City business.
In general, the lower cost travel or lodging alternative that will meet the employee’s needs should be selected. However, lodging at the conference or training host hotel is allowable. It is also important to consider the best use of the employee’s time and the employee’s effectiveness upon arrival in making travel arrangements. In some cases, the traveler can obtain a lower fare by adjusting the dates of travel; however, additional costs for per diem and lodging, as well as the employee’s time, need to be considered in making that decision.
Additional expenses incurred at the request of the traveler unrelated to City business, such as the additional cost of travel by an indirect route, travel for accompanying companions, and costs incurred to add personal travel to travel for City business, are not reimbursable.
An employee’s commuting expenses for out-of-town travel will not be reimbursed.
2. Pre-authorization and Reimbursement Documentation Required
A travel authorization form will be completed and approved prior to incurring travel expenses. The travel authorization must be approved by the bureau director and elected official, or designee.
Employees will identify the purpose of the trip and the benefit to the City in a written justification on the travel authorization form.
Travel advances will not be issued. However, bureau directors can authorize a travel advance for meal and incidental expenses per diem on a case-by-case basis. The intent of this exception is to avoid creating hardship for an individual traveler, not to authorize travel advances for travelers from that bureau.
Employees are required to submit a travel reimbursement form after returning from travel. This form will itemize actual expenses and will be accompanied by receipts or contemporaneous record for all categories except for meal and incidental per diem. If an employee does not submit a proper and timely accounting for travel, the employee may be denied future travel opportunities and may face disciplinary action.
Bureau directors and elected officials will ensure that reimbursement forms are approved and submitted in a timely manner, in order to quickly reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if the reimbursement request is substantially the same as estimated in the pre-authorization, the reimbursement could be approved by a bureau division manager.
3. Persons Eligible for Reimbursement
City employees are eligible for reimbursement for travel expenses limited to the published guidelines and procedures. City employees include all represented and non-represented employees, the Mayor, Council members and the City Auditor. Employees shall also mean persons in temporary, seasonal or contracted positions.
Volunteers who serve as members of boards, commissions or advisory committees, or who provide other authorized services to the City without pay, are also eligible. Reimbursement is limited to the published guidelines and procedures.
Persons who are not employees or volunteers may be reimbursed for travel when travel is incurred with providing a service to the City. Reimbursement is limited to the published guidelines and procedures.
The term “employees” will be used to describe all persons who are eligible for reimbursement according to these published guidelines and procedures.
Professional and technical contractors can be reimbursed for travel through an approved professional services contract. Reimbursement is limited to the terms of the contract.
4. Use of City Travel Agent Required
All travel must be coordinated and purchased through the City travel agent. Exceptions can be made for special fares available through conference-designated travel agents who can provide better travel options at lower cost.
The Bureau of Purchases is responsible for obtaining travel agent services for all City travel. The Bureau of Purchases shall contract with one or more travel agents who will be responsible for providing all travel agency services to the City.
5. Personal Use of Travel Incentives Prohibited
Personal use of travel incentives earned from travel arrangements purchased by the City or reimbursed by the City is prohibited. Travel incentives include, but are not limited to, frequent flyer miles for air travel, bonus miles, miles provided by credit card companies for purchases (such as hotel lodging) and compensation for the inconvenience of being bumped off a flight that is overbooked (such as a coupon for future travel). Any travel incentives earned because of travel on behalf of the City, which has been paid for by the City, cannot be used for personal travel.
Lodging or meal vouchers received because of a delay in travel are not included in this prohibition.
6. Exceptions Require Justification and Approval
Expenses incurred that are exceptions to the published guidelines and procedures require written justification and approval by the bureau director and elected official, or designee. An example could be selecting a travel option that is not the lower cost alternative due to special circumstances surrounding the destination, the nature of the trip or the traveler’s request for accommodations. Another example could be when a conference meal is to be paid separately from registration and is substantially higher than the per diem.
The exception justification and approval should be submitted with the travel authorization if the reason is known before travel, or the travel reimbursement form if the need arises during travel.
7. Combining Business With Personal Travel
If an employee incurs additional expenses for travel by traveling with a companion, by traveling by alternative means for personal convenience or by adding additional days or travel stops, the additional expenses will be paid by the individual traveler and are not reimbursable. Employees should note that if they arrange for personal travel associated with business travel, and the business trip is cancelled, the employee shall pay any penalties for the cancellation of their personal travel.
8. Travel Paid By Outside Entity
Employees traveling on City business where the travel costs are paid by an outside entity shall follow the travel pre-authorization approval process and all other applicable travel policies and procedures.
9. Authority For Travel Procedures
The Chief Administrative Officer is authorized to develop travel procedures that are consistent with this policy and is responsible for making those procedures accessible to City employees.
Emergency Ordinance No. 181046, passed by City Council June 13, 2007 and effective July 1, 2007.