UCR Policies and Procedures

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Under Review

Campus Policy Number 200-44

Entertainment, Business Meetings and Other Occasions

Policy Owner: Accounting Office
Effective Date: 10/23/2006

    There are occasions in which the University may provide hospitality to campus and/or community audiences to support the mission of the University.  Expenditures must be cost effective and in accordance with the best use of public funds.   University-wide policy and procedures, described in UC Business and Finance Bulletin BUS-79 Expenditures for Entertainment, Business Meetings and Other Occasions, govern the manner and extent to which the University may extend hospitality.  The UCR campus policy follows the University-wide policy, procedures, and rates described in BUS-79.

    This campus policy is based upon the philosophy that the use of University funds for entertainment-type expenditures must be essential, prudent, in keeping with accepted standards of the educational community, and in accordance with the best use of public funds.

    NOTE:  A Dean or Vice Chancellor, at his/her discretion, may institute more restrictive policies for his/her organizational unit.

    1. The following entertainment-type categories of expenditures are allowed (see BUS-79, section V.B. for detailed definitions of each category):
      1. Entertainment
        1. Meals provided to prospective donors, employees or student appointees
        2. Meals provided to visitors, guests, and volunteers
        3. Meals provided to a spouse or partner of a guest or host  (on an exception basis)
        4. Cash contributions included in a fundraiser fee (on an exception basis)
      2. Business meetings
      3. Employee morale functions (on an exception basis)
      4. Other employee meals
      5. Student meals
    2. Authorized Rates.  The maximum per person rates for meals and light refreshments are established by UC and include food, beverages, tax, service and delivery charges. Effective 10/1/06, the rates are:
      1. Breakfast $26
      2. Lunch $38
      3. Dinner $64
      4. Light Refreshments $17
    1. General Approval
      The department head (or equivalent authority) is authorized to approve routine entertainment-type expenditure as laid out in the Entertainment Policy and Approval Matrix.  Some transactions (e.g. items requiring exceptional approval) require higher level approval (see the Entertainment Policy and Approval Matrix).

      Each authorizing individual must have on file a Signature Authorization or Cancellation Form (Form U242).

      For internal control purposes, the approving authority should be the supervisor of (or at a higher classification than) the person claiming the expenditure and the official host.   

      Before expenditures are approved, it is the responsibility of the approving authority to determine that:
      1. The expense supports the department, organization and University’s mission
      2. The expense is reasonable, cost effective and exhibits the best use of University funds
      3. The expense is allowable for the fund source
      4. Funds are available for the expense
      5. Alternatives that would be equally effective in achieving the desired objective have been considered
    2. Exceptional Approval
      The Chancellor has delegated the authority to approve exceptions from this policy to the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost, Deans and the Vice Chancellors for his/her respective area.   This authority cannot be re-delegated further.  The request for exceptional approval must be justified in writing to the appropriate authority (i.e. EVC/Dean/VC) at least ten (10) working days prior to the event.

      The Deans/Vice Chancellors are authorized to approve the following exceptions:  

      • Expenses that exceed the per-person maximum rates (up to 200%) - the request must include a brief justification as to why the higher costs were unavoidable and necessary to achieve a University business purpose.  Only actual costs incurred will be reimbursed.  The fact that actual costs exceed the authorized rates is not in itself adequate justification for a higher reimbursement rate. (Exceptions exceeding 200% can only be approved by the Chancellor.)
      • Entertainment involving the spouse (or partner) of a host or a guest - the expenditures must serve a bona fide University business purpose.  Provide a brief justification on why it was necessary for the spouse (or partner) to attend. 
      • Employee Morale-Building Activities require the Dean/Vice Chancellor's approval.  The request must be justified in writing at least ten (10) working days prior to the event. 
      • Table Sponsorships or instances where the University is underwriting the cost of the event require the Dean/Vice Chancellor's AND Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost approval. The request must be justified in writing at least ten (10) working days prior to the event. Departments should route the request through the appropriate Dean/Vice Chancellor's office.
      • Event tickets (e.g. sporting, theatrical or musical) require the Dean/Vice Chancellor's AND Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost approval.  The request must be justified in writing at least ten (10) working days prior to the event. Departments should route the request through the appropriate Dean/Vice Chancellor's office.
      • Cash contributions related to an entertainment event require the Dean/Vice Chancellor's approval.  The request must be justified in writing at least ten (10) working days prior to the event. 
      • Other Events not specifically outlined in the Entertainment Policy and Approval Matrix  (section IX) require the Dean/Vice Chancellor's approval.  The request must be justified in writing at least ten (10) working days prior to the event.


    In addition, the requests for exceptions must be in writing and outline each aspect of the event that is an exception to policy for which approval is being requested.  Please note expenses requiring exceptional approval may not be charged to State funds or other restricted fund sources.

    For complete details, click on the Entertainment Policy and Approval Matrix.

    1. General Requests
      The University will only reimburse entertainment-type expenses related or associated with the active conduct of official University business, as provided in section 274 of the Internal Revenue Code. 

      An Entertainment Check Request form (U5-IE revised 10/06) must accompany all requests for payment or reimbursement of entertainment expenses with the exception of catered events paid by recharge through Dining Services (see section V.4 below). The Form U5-IE is available on the UCR Accounting web site at: http://www.accounting.ucr.edu/forms.htm.

      One form should be submitted per event.   If the event spans multiple days, the request must include a breakdown by meal by date.  The completed request must include the following information:

      • Date(s) and Location of the event;
      • Identification of the type of event per the Entertainment Policy and Approval Matrix
      • Event name or purpose;
      • Type of expense (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.);
      • Number of participants and cost per person per meal;
      • Guest list containing the name and title of participants; their occupation or group affiliation*;
      • The amount of the expense and attach the original itemized receipt**;
      • The full accounting unit (FAU) to be charged for the expense;
      • Official host's name and department;
      • A certification signed by the official host that the expenses were incurred for official University business purposes;
      • The department head (or equivalent authority) approval (see Section A for approver’s responsibility);
      • Identification of all related costs associated with the event (e.g. payments processed via invoice or reimbursements to others).
      • Justification for each exception requested with proper approval

      * The guest list is to establish the business relationship of the participants to the University.  If the group is very large and is inclusive of a campus segment (e.g. campus-wide staff appreciation picnic), it is not necessary to include individual name and titles.

      **Lost Receipt - If the original itemized  receipt is not available because it's lost or all measures to obtain a duplicate receipt have been exhausted, please complete and submit a "Declaration of Missing Evidence" form available at the UCR Accounting Office home page-various forms .  The acceptance of this form is subject to the frequency of its use. 
    2. Light Refreshments
      Reimbursements up to $100 for light refreshments (e.g., coffee and donuts) may be processed through the petty cash process (normally processed on a form 5). These entertainment expenses still need to be substantiated by the Entertainment Check Request form (Form U5-IE) along with your form 5. The petty cash reimbursement will not be processed without the Form U5-IE attached.
    3. Catered Events paid by Purchase Order
      Payment of expenses for a catered event may be processed on an invoice, provided it contains all the proper approvals and information specified in Section IV.1 above. An Entertainment Check Request form (Form U5-IE) should be completed and sent to the Accounting office before the arrival of the invoice from the vendor. Please reference the Purchase Order number on the form U5-IE. Invoices cannot be paid without the form U5-IE. Please refer to the campus procedure on the use of caterers (UCR Campus Policy and Procedure 600-30).
    4. Catered Events paid by Recharge
      The Entertainment Check Request form (Form U5-IE) is not required for catered events through Dining Services. Payment is generally made through a web recharge. The information specified in section IV.1 above will be collected on the contract between the requesting department and Dining Services.   All other parts of the entertainment policy should still be followed.   Please refer to the campus procedure on the use of caterers (UCR Campus Policy and Procedure 600-30). 
    5. Account Numbers for Entertainment Expenses
      Care should be taken in assigning account numbers for entertainment expenses, as follows:
      1. 714140 - Food and Beverages for Business Meetings and Conferences should be used for the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages served at business meetings and conferences.
      2. 714160 - Social Activities and Entertainment should be used for the cost of all policy exceptions, alcoholic beverages, social activities, and foods and beverages served at events that are more social than business in nature (e.g., expenses for retirement parties, and meals honoring guests of the University). Costs in account number 714160 are not allowable costs (from the federal government's perspective) to be included in the indirect cost rate calculation. Thus we must be careful in separately identifying these costs so they can be excluded from the rate setting process.
    6. Check Delivery Restrictions (Financial Control)
      To ensure that adequate internal control standards are met, a payment issued to reimburse entertainment expenses shall be made directly to the individual incurring the expense or the vendor providing the service.   Such payments shall not be delivered to any of the individuals involved in the approval or payment preparation process.  Thus, all relevant documentation should be attached to the request for payment and mailed to the payee with the check.
    7. Meals While on Travel Status
      A University employee on travel status who incurs entertainment expenses (e.g. meals for others for a business purpose) must claim such expenses in accordance with the procedures specified above in Section IV.1.  Such expenses should be claimed on the Form U5-IE and submitted with the Travel Expense Voucher to ensure that the meals for travel are separated from the meals for entertainment.

      Note:  When traveling with colleagues, each individual must pay for his/her own meals and request reimbursement on their respective travel expense vouchers. 
    Business and Finance Bulletin - BUS 79, UCOP Entertainment Policy

    Business and Finance Bulletin G-28, UCOP Travel Policy
    UCR Policies and Procedures Manual:
    Q: Can I submit more than one entertainment reimbursement on the form U5-IE?
    A:  One Entertainment Check Request form should be submitted for each event.  For example if an event involves lunch and light refreshments, one form U5-IE form should be submitted itemizing the costs.  However, if an individual is requesting reimbursement for two different events (for example two separate lunch meetings with prospective employees), two separate form U5-IEs should be completed.

    Q: Why does the host need to provide itemized receipts for events costing less than $75?
    A:  Itemized receipts:  (1) provide the opportunity for the host to clearly and completely document the nature and extent of the entertainment expense items; (2) assist the reviewers in readily determining that the entertainment expense items are appropriate and within policy; and (3) assist the transactors in fully understanding the component parts of the entertainment expense and coding each appropriately (e.g., coding alcoholic beverage expenses or policy exceptions so that they are expensed on a fund source that allows these types of costs).

    Q: Can I be reimbursed for alcoholic beverage expenses and are there any limits?
    A: Yes, alcoholic beverage expenses can be reimbursed subject to certain limitations.  The maximum meal reimbursement rates include food, beverages, tax, service, and delivery charge.  Alcoholic beverage expenses cannot be reimbursed from state or federal funds; other fund sources may also have restrictions on alcohol.  Consult UCR Campus Policy and Procedure 700-60 on the sale, serving, and consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus.

    Q:  My UC colleagues and I are attending a conference at another location; can I pick up the tab for dinner and be reimbursed?
    AUniversity employees should not serve as host for other University employees who are also on travel status with applicable meal allowance.    Each UC traveler should pay for his/her own meals and request reimbursement on their respective travel expense vouchers.

    Q:  Can I be reimbursed for refreshments at my weekly staff meeting?
    A:  Business meals that are frequent or occur on a routine basis are treated by the IRS as taxable income and therefore are not reimbursable under University policy.

    Q:  How are meals handled when a prospective employee is visiting the campus?
    A:  When a meal is provided to a prospective appointee who is also eligible for travel subsistence from the University, care should be taken to ensure that the interviewee does not claim reimbursement on the travel voucher for that same meal. 

    Q:  Does our campus have more restrictive reimbursement rates than those in university-wide UC policy?
    A:  No, as of October 23, 2006 UCR’s reimbursement rates are the same as those in the UC policy.