Business Policies and Procedures Manual
Chapter 95: Travel

Travel Management

BPPM 95.01

For more information contact:
   Travel Services

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
  • Responsibilities
  • Travel approval
  • Spend authorization
  • Definitions applicable to University travel

University Policies

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:

State Regulations

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.

Differing Policies

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.

Temporary Policies

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 Spend Authorization in Workday to Travel Services. (See the Workday Create Spend Authorization reference guide for instructions.) 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 Spend Authorization 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 view the Spend Authorization documenting prior approval for the exception in Workday.

Lodging Exception

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.


Department Responsibilities

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 Expense Report. (See BPPM 95.18 and the Workday Create Expense Report reference guide.)

  • Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Traveler Responsibilities

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 an Expense Report is prepared and routed in Workday. (See BPPM 95.20 and the Workday Create Expense Report reference guide.)

    Note: The traveler must substantiate expenses on an Expense Report in Workday within 60 days of the trip end date to avoid being taxed on the expenses. (See BPPM 95.20 and the Workday Create Expense Report reference guide.)

Travel Approval

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 Spend Authorization in Workday for the travel situations listed below. (See the Workday Create Spend Authorization reference guide for completion and routing instructions.)

  • When a cash advance for travel purposes is requested.
  • When an exception to policy is requested.
  • When the traveler is going out of state or out of the country. (SAAM 10.10.50) See also BPPM 95.53 for information about foreign travel.
  • 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 candidate, pre-hire student, or academic affiliate travel. See BPPM 95.13 and 95.14.
  • 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 Spend Authorization is not required. A Spend Authorization 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

Spend Authorizations and Expense Reports are approved in Workday by the employee’s manager and the appropriate financial manager (e.g. cost center, project, program, gift, grant). The area finance officer approves if the manager role is unassigned or if the travel is foreign.

See BPPM 85.33 regarding requesting and approving applicable role-based security requests for access to Workday modules and functions.

Split Authority

In Workday, the employee’s manager and the financial manager for the supporting worktags (e.g., cost center, project, program, gift, grant) approves the travel.

Student Travel

For students, the financial manager for the supporting worktags (e.g. cost center, project, program, gift, grant) approves the travel.

Applicant or Speaker Travel

For applicants or speakers the financial manager for the supporting worktags (e.g. cost center, project, program, gift, grant) approves the travel.

Research-Related Travel

If the traveler receives any Public Health Service (PHS)-regulated funding, the traveler is to submit an online SFI Travel Disclosure through MyResearch. PHS-regulated funding is defined as funding from a PHS entity or non-PHS source that has adopted the PHS regulations. SFI stands for “significant financial interests.”

For instructions and a list of complying non-PHS entities, see MyResearch.

See also Executive Policy Manual EP27.

Registration for WSU-Sponsored Conference

If the traveler is requesting to attend a conference sponsored by a WSU department, the traveler must submit an Internal Service Delivery business process in Workday or an IRI to the sponsoring department to pay registration fees.

Note: To access the Internal Service Delivery business process in Workday, the traveler must be assigned with the Internal Service Delivery Data Entry Specialist security role. If that role is not assigned, the traveler must submit an IRI.

See BPPM 70.05 for IRI instructions and information about the Internal Service Delivery process. See also the Workday Internal Service Delivery reference guide for instructions, if applicable.

Records Retention

Travel Services retains Spend Authorization transactions in the Workday system in accordance with the University’s record retention requirements. (See BPPM 90.01.)

In the case of a cash advance for travel purposes, Travel Services retains the Spend Authorization 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.

Continental Breakfast

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.)

Create Request

The department submits a Create Request business process in Workday, selecting the Payment Request as the request type, to substantiate and/or authorize payment of travel costs for the following:

  • Individuals who serve on boards, commissions, councils, committees, and task forces
  • Volunteers
  • Other individuals who are authorized to receive travel expense reimbursement

To complete the request the department must:

Expense Report

An Expense Report is a University-defined electronic transaction in Workday used to substantiate and/or authorize reimbursement payments of travel costs for University employees.

The department may also use the Expense Report in Workday to substantiate and/or authorize payment of travel costs for the following nonemployees:

  • Pre-hires;
  • Candidates;
  • Academic affiliates; and
  • Students.

See BPPM 95.20 and the Workday Create Expense Report reference guide for instructions. See Create Request regarding authorizing travel cost reimbursements for other types of nonemployees.

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

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

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.)

Out-of-State Travel

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 that are contiguous 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.

Privately-Owned Vehicle

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.

The state driver is responsible to maintain vehicle insurance on the POV in compliance with Washington mandatory liability insurance requirements. (RCW 46.29, RCW 46.30). See SPPM 7.10.

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
  • Volunteers
  • 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.

State Vehicle

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.

See BPPM 60.34 and 80.86 regarding teleworking at WSU.

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

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 Expenses

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

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.

Revisions:  January 2021 (Rev. 560); (Feb. 2019 (Rev. 526); July 2012 (Rev. 401); Aug. 2011 (Rev. 383); Aug. 2011 (Rev. 382); May 2010 (Rev. 359); June 2007 (Rev. 299); Sept. 2000 (Rev. 170); Mar. 2000 (Rev. 159); Sept. 1998 (Rev. 126); Jan. 1996 (Rev. 98); Aug. 1994 (Rev. 95); Jan. 1994 (Rev. 94); Aug. 1993 (Rev. 92); Jan. 1992 (Rev. 88); Aug. 1991 (Rev. 87); July 1987 (Rev. 67).