Smaller Meal Expenses No Longer Need Reams of Proof

New policy eliminates need to submit receipts for meals and local ground transportation expenses under $75

Ron T. Coley

UCR’s effort to “Think Lean” is paying off in a streamlined process to reimburse UCR employees for lower-cost expenses related to travel and business meetings.

Effective Dec. 13, Bobbi McCracken, UCR’s controller, announced a campus-wide standard for documentation. In accordance with UC policy, receipts are not required for travel, business meeting and entertainment meal reimbursements of less than $75. The same is true for local ground transportation expenses less than $75 per day.

“We are standardizing across the campus to align with UC-wide policies,” said Ron Coley, vice chancellor of business and administrative services. “Travel reimbursements are at the heart of chronic complaints about our business processes, and we welcome the chance to simplify and save time and money.”

Due to more restrictive processes in some units, reimbursing an employee for a $20 lunch took a significant amount of staff time tracking down receipts. “That doesn’t make any financial sense,” Coley said. This is just one of dozens of specific business processes that will be streamlined to make the university run more smoothly and efficiently.

The UC system does have fairly strict policies related to travel. For instance, if a trip does not require an overnight stay, meal expenses are not reimbursable, McCracken said. Receipts continue to be required for hotel stays, plane tickets, car rentals and conference registration regardless of the cost.

“All departments using the same standards should make reimbursements easier,” McCracken said. “This change should save time for everyone, the travelers as well as the staff members processing the reimbursement requests.”

Virginia Odien, a Strategic Communications staff member who served on the team that analyzed the data and made recommendations to streamline the process, said it will definitely save time for people on the front lines.

“I think there was a collective cheer at eliminating extraneous work,” she said. “On typical meal expenses, it means I don’t have to scan the receipts, add them up, upload and attach it to paperwork.”

She said the planning team was made up of travel coordinators, travelers, staff members from auditing and accounting.

“Organizational Excellence works because staff can make recommendations and see it realized,” she said.

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