Policy Creation and Compliance
University policies; state laws, policies and procedures; and policies of individual funding sources and sponsoring agencies regulate all WSU travel.
This section (BPPM 95.01) provides requirements, procedures, and information regarding:
- Policy creation and compliance
- Travel approval
- Travel Authority or department substitute form
- Definitions applicable to University travel
Chapter 95 of the Business Policies and Procedures Manual (BPPM) includes administrative policies and procedures relating to official WSU business travel.
The following additional University safety policies and procedures apply to travel:
- Safety Policies and Procedures Manual (SPPM) 5.40 for transport of hazardous materials.
- SPPM Chapter 7 for motor vehicle safety.
As a Washington state agency, WSU is required to comply with the policies and procedures set forth in the State Administrative and Accounting Manual (SAAM), except as stipulated by state law. The SAAM is developed and maintained by the state of Washington Office of Financial Management (OFM) and is derived from the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The RCW is the compilation of all permanent state of Washington laws now in force.
As provided in RCW 28B.10.029, institutions of higher education may use all appropriate means for making and paying for travel arrangements to support student, faculty, staff, and other participants’ travel in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible. Methods used must be based on standard industry practices and be compliant with federal accountable plan requirements. Accordingly, Washington State University is exempt from provisions in SAAM 10.10.45, 10.30.60, 10.50.35, 10.50.40, 10.50.45, 10.50.50, 10.50.75, and 10.80.55. See SAAM Chapter 10.
Funding sources and sponsoring agencies may have policies and reimbursement allowances that differ from those of WSU and the state. In these instances, departments must comply with the more restrictive policies or reimbursement allowances.
On occasion, the state government and the central administration may require additional travel restrictions and controls due to:
- Temporary funding limitations; or
- Directives regarding acts that are inconsistent with the values of the state of Washington and/or WSU.
At such times the central administration distributes memoranda describing temporary policies.
The following persons must comply with University and state of Washington policies and procedures:
- All University officers, employees, and volunteers, unless otherwise provided by law.
- Persons other than University officers and employees where travel expenses are authorized by statute, but the statute is silent as to amount.
- Contractors, unless there are specific contractual arrangements modifying travel reimbursement.
These rules may be used as a guideline for the payment of legally authorized travel expenses for students and other clients of the University not included in the list above. (SAAM 10.10.05)
To request an exception to WSU policy, the department must submit a Travel Authority (TA) form or department substitute form to Travel Services. The exception request must include a statement of the policy and a justification for the exception. (See Written Prior Approval.)
The department is advised to contact Travel Services before submitting the TA, in order to ensure that the exception is allowable and the expense reimbursable. Travel Services has the right to deny the exception.
The department must retain a copy of the exception approval with the travel packet for the trip. Travel Services may request a copy of the TA documenting prior approval for the exception during an audit of the Travel Expense Voucher (TEV).
A lodging exception is required to authorize payment of more than the standard allowable lodging rate, in accordance with BPPM 95.06. Include the applicable lodging exception number with the exception justification.
University officials and their designees for authorizing travel and approving reimbursement are to:
- Be familiar with state and University travel policies and regulations (see BPPM Chapter 95).
- Ensure that travel plans are the most economical and advantageous to the state.
- Implement alternatives to travel when possible.
- Establish effective systems for management and control over travel-related costs.
- Understand the funding sources and any associated restrictions on allowable expenses.
- Ensure that travelers are acquiring prior authorization for all travel, with written documentation on file as required (see Travel Approval).
- Ensure that travelers are not treated differently under like travel circumstances.
- Ensure that any travel costs incurred are:
- Directly work-related;
- Obtained at the most economical price;
- Both critical and necessary for state business.
- Exercise prudent judgment in authorizing and approving travel-related costs.
- Ensure the health and safety of travelers.
In emergency situations, such as sudden onset of incapacitating illness or severe inclement weather, the supervisor should be contacted as soon as possible. An explanation of the health or safety issue must also be noted on the traveler’s Travel Expense Voucher (see BPPM 95.18).
- Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
All persons in travel status for official University business have the following responsibilities:
- Be familiar with state and University travel policies and regulations (see BPPM Chapter 95).
Check with the department for additional travel requirements.
- Exercise prudent judgment in making travel arrangements and incurring travel related expenses.
Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official state business travel are not acceptable.
- Personally pay for any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience.
- Arrange to return as promptly as possible to either the official station or official residence once business is completed.
- Obtain prior authorization as required (see Travel Approval).
- Provide receipts and documentation timely upon returning from the trip and ensure a Travel Expense Voucher (TEV) is prepared. (See BPPM 95.20.)
NOTE: The traveler must substantiate expenses on a TEV within 60 days of the trip end date to avoid being taxed on the expenses. (See BPPM 95.20.)
The University maintains a positive control over travel, which must be deemed appropriate and result in a benefit to WSU. Prior approval by a University official or their designee is required for all University travel in order for individuals to be eligible to:
- Travel on behalf of WSU; and
- Receive reimbursement for authorized and allowable expenses.
Prior approval also acknowledges that employees are traveling in the capacity of their job duties and, therefore, covered under WSU’s industrial insurance and worker’s compensation insurance.
Written Prior Approval
Written prior approval must be documented on a Travel Authority (TA) form or a department’s substitute form for the travel situations listed below. (See TA or Substitute Form for form instructions.) The department routes or retains the TA as indicated.
Routed to Travel Services
Route the TA to Travel Services in the following instances:
- When a travel advance is requested.
Travel Services retains the approved TA involving a travel advance.
- When an exception to policy is requested. (See also Exceptions.)
Travel Services returns the TA to the department with approval or denial of the exception request.
Retained in Department
In each of the following circumstances, the department must retain the written approval in the departmental files. The department does not route the approved TA or department’s substitute form to Travel Services.
- When the traveler is going out of state or out of the country. (SAAM 10.10.50) See also BPPM 95.15 for information about foreign travel.
- When a privately-owned, rented, or chartered aircraft is used (see BPPM 95.30).
NOTE: Submit the original TA or substitute TA to Purchasing at least ten days before anticipated departure.
- When official WSU travel is partially or entirely supported by funds not administered by the WSU Controller’s Office, e.g., from a third party (another educational institution, a private organization) or the traveler’s personal funds (see BPPM 95.16).
- When seeking authorization for applicant, student, speaker, or other nonemployee travel. See BPPM 95.13, 95.14, and 95.25.
(NOTE: This does not apply to Attorney General’s representatives or the Board of Regents.)
- When the administrative unit requires it. An individual unit may require written approval for all travel.
NOTE: If the individual unit requires written approval above and beyond that required by this policy (BPPM 95.01), the unit is responsible for ensuring that the unit policy is consistently applied.
Verbal Prior Approval
Verbal prior approval by the administrator is acceptable when a Travel Authority is not required. A TA or department’s substitute form is required whenever one of the circumstances listed above applies to the travel plan. (See Written Prior Approval.)
Authorized Officials University officials holding the following titles are authorized to approve all travel for subordinates:
- Vice President
- Vice Provost
- Associate and Assistant Vice President
- Vice Chancellor
- Dean and Associate Dean
- Director of Libraries
- Director of Athletics
University officials holding the above titles may delegate approval authority to subordinates holding the title of chair, director, or associate director. The chair, director, or associate director may delegate approval authority to their designee, e.g., a department manager.
The designated approving official must personally sign the Travel Authority. A facsimile signature, e.g., rubber-stamped signature, is not acceptable.
When a designated acting official signs the Travel Authority, the acting title must be shown.
Split Authority When one administrator supervises the employee and another administrator is responsible for the supporting account, both administrators approve the travel.
Student Travel For students, the approving administrator must be an official who oversees the department or office responsible for the travel activity and an official who is authorized to approve travel.
Applicant or Speaker Travel For applicants or speakers the approving administrator must be the chair or unit administrator who oversees the department or office responsible for the travel activity and an official who is authorized to approve travel.
TA or Substitute Form
The Travel Authority form is available in PDF and FileMaker formats on the PR&F website.
Substitute TA Form
A department may use a substitute TA form if the substitute form collects all of the data required on a regular TA form.
The Travel Authority form or the department’s substitute form must include the following:
- Traveler information, including:
- WSU ID number
- Division or department
- Business purpose of the trip
- Restrictions and further details, as applicable
- Detailed itinerary, with dates of when the traveler is to be in various locations (NOTE: Include the full name of organizations and agencies, rather than initials)
- Any exceptions to policy (see Exceptions)
- Signature of University official or designee authorized to approve travel
- Detailed budget of authorized expenses, including
Travel Funded by Third Party
Indicate if a third party is supporting the costs of this travel.
Enter the name of the third party entity (see BPPM 95.16).
If requesting a travel advance, enter the advance amount for each expense category and the total advance amount.
NOTE: Travel advances may not include amounts for personal motor vehicles, other transportation (air, rail, or bus), and speaker fees.
See BPPM 95.05 for further requirements and procedures regarding travel advances.
- Registration Fee
The department must use a departmental purchasing card (see BPPM 70.08) to prepay the conference registration fee.
NOTE: If there is no departmental purchasing card available, the traveler may pay the registration fee and be reimbursed with a claim on the Travel Expense Voucher (TEV). Attach a receipt for the expenditure to the TEV.
- When Travel Not Required
If the employee does not have to travel to attend the conference, the approving administrator may authorize payment of conference, convention, or meeting registration fees, including certain meal costs (see BPPM 95.06).
- Meals Included in Registration Fee
If meals are part of the regular registration fee and are not optional, general University funds may be used to pay conference registration costs.
- Optional Meals
Meals are considered optional if the conference registration fee is adjusted for meals purchased.
When conference meals are optional, general University operating funds may support meal costs up to the maximum allowable amounts shown in BPPM 95.19. If meal costs exceed these maximums, the excess costs may be supported by one or both of the following:
- The personal funds of the traveler. The traveler attaches a personal check made out to the conference; and/or
- A discretionary (program 17A) account designated in Account Information. (See BPPM 30.75 and 70.33 for more about discretionary accounts.)
NOTE: Departments may not use purchasing cards to pay for optional conference meals.
- WSU-Sponsored Conferences
If the conference is sponsored by a WSU department, use an IRI to pay registration fees. See BPPM 70.05 for IRI instructions.
Determine whether the traveler receives any Public Health Service (PHS)-regulated funding (i.e., funding from a PHS entity or non-PHS source that has adopted the PHS regulations). If so, the traveler is to submit an online SFI Travel Disclosure through MyResearch. (SFI stands for “significant financial interests.”)
For instructions and a list of complying non-PHS entities, see the ORA COI website.
See also Executive Policy EP27.
The Travel Authority form or the department’s substitute form may also include a TA number (as determined by the department for identification purposes).
The TA is routed differently for different travel situations.
If the request does not include a travel advance, the originating unit retains the original of the TA or the department’s substitute form and any back up documentation. This constitutes the official University record of approval for the travel.
The department provides a copy to the traveler.
The department provides an additional copy to the college, if required by the responsible dean/director.
Submit the original TA and a copy to Travel Services at least ten days before anticipated departure. See also BPPM 95.05.
Submit the original TA or substitute TA to Purchasing at least ten days before anticipated departure. See also BPPM 95.30.
See BPPM 95.15.
If the request does not include a travel advance, the originating department is responsible for retaining the approval form in accordance with the University’s record retention requirements.
In the case of a travel advance, Travel Services retains the approval form along with the payment voucher for the advance.
The following definitions apply to all travel for state business, in accordance with OFM regulations. (SAAM Glossary)
Authorized Travel Period
The authorized travel period is the period of time when the traveler is in authorized travel status away from the official station and official residence.
Central Travel Account
The term “central travel account” is terminology used by a credit card company for a “ghost billing account.”
See BPPM 95.04 regarding Central Travel Accounts (CTAs).
Commercial Lodging Facility
A commercial lodging facility is a business, nonprofit, or governmental entity that provides lodging accommodations for a fee. In order to qualify as commercial lodging, a lodging facility other than a hotel must be supported by a tax ID number and must be available to the general public.
Reimbursement for lodging at a private residence not meeting the criteria above is not allowed.
Commute is defined as travel between the official residence (OR) and other domicile of a state official or employee and their official station (OS) or other place of work. When the traveler’s OR and OS is the same city, town, or other location, then the first and last trip within their OR/OS is their normal commute.
A continental breakfast is defined as either:
- A breakfast generally consisting of juice, bread, fruit and a hot beverage (typically coffee or tea), or
- A light meal defined in agency policy. (See BPPM 70.31.)
Ghost Billing Account
A ghost billing account is a cardless billing program offered by many charge card and credit card companies that is designed to primarily accommodate airline ticket purchases. (See BPPM 95.04.)
Incidental expenses are defined as fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, hotel and restaurant staff, flight attendants, and others for personal services performed. An allowance for incidental expenses is included within the daily per diem rate for the travel location.
Incidental expenses are not miscellaneous expenses. (See BPPM 95.08 regarding miscellaneous expenses.)
In-state travel is defined as travel within the state of Washington.
NOTE: With respect to the requirement for prior authorization of out-of-state travel (SAAM 10.10.50), travel to counties and/or cities in the states of Idaho and Oregon that are contiguous to the border between Washington-Idaho or Washington-Oregon are not considered out-of-state.
Normal Return Night
The normal return night is defined as the night of travel on which, prior to the trip, it was anticipated that the traveler would return either to the OS or OR after the completion of official state business.
Official Residence (OR)
The official residence (OR) is the city, town, or other location where a state official or employee maintains a residence that is used as their primary domicile.
Official State Business
Official state business is defined as activities performed in order to accomplish state programs or as required by the duties of the position or office by any of the following:
- A state official or employee
- An authorized volunteer or contractor
- A work experience program participant
- A student
- An employee of another governmental agency as directed by their supervisor
Official Station (OS)
The official station (OS) is the city, town, or other location where the state official or employee’s office is located or work is performed on a permanent basis. (The official station is determined by the needs of the University.)
Travel anywhere outside the boundaries of the state of Washington is to be considered out-of-state and coded as out-of-state travel.
NOTE: With respect to the requirement for prior authorization of out-of-state travel (SAAM 10.10.50), travel to counties and/or cities in the states of Idaho and Oregon thaworkplaceiguous to the border between Washington-Idaho or Washington-Oregon are not considered out-of-state.
Per Diem Expenses
Per diem expenses are the daily travel costs covering both lodging expenses and subsistence expenses (i.e., meals and incidental expenses) while in travel status.
A privately-owned vehicle is a vehicle privately owned, leased, or (POV) borrowed by a state driver. The driver may receive or is entitled to receive monetary reimbursement or per diem when the vehicle is used to conduct official University business. See BPPM 95.11.
Regular Work Place
The regular work place is the location where the state official or employee normally performs their duties or work, excluding meeting and conference rooms.
State Driver A state driver is defined as a person authorized by the agency head or authorized designee to operate a state vehicle used for conducting official state business. State drivers may include:
- State employees
- Students (high school or college students that are 18 years of age and have minimum two years of driving experience)
- Department of Correction inmates (under the control of the Department of Corrections)
- Contractors (see SAAM 10.50.20.a).
See also SPPM 7.10.
A state vehicle is a motor vehicle owned, rented, leased, or otherwise under the possession and control of the state of Washington. A rental vehicle is a state vehicle if it is rented by a duly-authorized employee at the cost of the state and is solely for official state business. The use of a state vehicle must be authorized by the agency head or authorized designee and used only for official state business. (See SPPM 7.10.)
Teleworking involves the use of telephones and computers to enable an employee to work at a location other than their regular workplace. Teleworking is a commute trip reduction strategy that must be approved by an employee’s agency.
Temporary Duty Station
A temporary duty station is a fixed location where a state official or employee has been temporarily assigned to work for a specific period of time which is less than one year.
Transportation expenses are defined as costs covering travel by:
- Commercial carriers, such as bus, train, ship, and airplane
- Privately-owned motor vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, vans, or trucks
- Rental motor vehicles
- Some combination of the above.
Travel Expense Voucher
A Travel Expense Voucher is a state- or agency-defined electronic or paper form used to substantiate and/or authorize reimbursement payments of travel costs for state employees.
The department may also use the Travel Expense Voucher to substantiate and/or authorize payment of travel costs for nonstate employees such as:
- Prospective employees
- Individuals who serve on boards, commissions, councils, committees, and task forces
- Other individuals who are authorized to receive travel expense reimbursement.
See BPPM 95.20 regarding the University’s Travel Expense Voucher (TEV).
Travel expenses are defined as those costs covering:
- Per diem expenses (see BPPM 95.06)
- Transportation expenses (see BPPM 95.07)
- Miscellaneous business expenses related to official state travel.
NOTE: The OFM definition of travel expenses also includes meals and/or coffee and light and miscellaneous refreshment business expenses regardless of travel status. However, University policy only considers such expenses as travel expenses if the employee who paid for the meals or refreshments was in travel status. (See BPPM 70.31.) Otherwise, the expenses are reimbursed to the employee with a State of Washington Invoice Voucher (see BPPM 30.45).
Travel status is the official status of a traveler when the traveler is away from both the official residence (OR) and the official station (OS) on state-related business, exclusive of commuting between the traveler’s OS and OR.
A traveler is defined as a person in travel status who is on official state business.