The university should revise the policies to allow employees to claim only actual lodging expenses up to established rates for international travel.
The university issued its revised travel policy in April 2015, which now requires employees to claim actual lodging expenses up to established rates for international travel.
Although the university stated in January 2014 that it would not revise its travel policy further to fully address our recommendation, the university reversed its decision in December 2014 and agreed to revise its policy as originally recommended. The university expects the revisions to be implemented by the spring of 2015.
In January 2014, the university provided us with a revised travel policy. One part of the policy states that an employee only may be reimbursed for the actual cost of lodging for foreign travel up to the federal per diem amount. However, another part of the revised policy suggests that an employee may be reimbursed for the cost of lodging for foreign travel up to the federal per diem amount without mention of the actual cost of the lodging. We therefore asked the university to revise its policy further to resolve the ambiguity that we noted. The university refused to revise its policy further. Consequently, the university has implemented this recommendation only partially.
In April 2013, the university provided us with a revised travel policy. After reviewing the revised policy, we pointed out to the university that while the revised policy restricts employees to claiming only their actual lodging costs when traveling outside the United States for 30 days or longer, it still allows employees traveling outside the United States for less than 30 days to claim a full per diem lodging rate rather than their actual lodging costs. The university responded in May 2013 that it would add language to its revised policy that allows employees traveling internationally for less than 30 days to claim only their actual lodging costs up to established rates.
In November 2013, the university provided us with the language it is intending to present to its policy committee, as an addition to its revised travel policy, to address our concern about employees being able to claim lodging expenses above their actual lodging costs for international travel of less than 30 days. However, we found this language to be inadequate to address our concern, so we have asked the university to propose different language.
The university has assigned its chief financial officer (CFO) to analyze this recommendation and the feasibility of incorporating it into university policy. The CFO has convened the campus controllers to begin the process of reviewing existing policies. (See 2013-406, p. 291)