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2300 In-State, Out-Of-State, and Out-of-Country Travel Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

2310 In-State Travel Reimbursement

Travel Policy June 2014

As of September 1, 2009, the U.S. General Services Administration travel rates have been used to determine the maximum meal and lodging reimbursement rates for both in-state and out-of -state travel.

The federal rates for both in-state and out-of-state travel reimbursements can be found on the General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Per Diem Rates Look-Up page. Simply select a year and click on a state. This link will be updated with the new rates throughout the federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) so please check the rates each trip.

See 2311 In-State Travel Reimbursement for Lodging and 2312 In-State Travel Reimbursement for Meals for DFPS specific policies regarding maximum reimbursable rates for lodging and meals.

2311 In-State Travel Reimbursement for Lodging

Travel Policy November 2017

For in-state lodging reimbursement, DFPS reimburses according to the lodging rates listed on the GSA Per Diem Rates page. The rate is determined by the address of the hotel, not the duty point.

If the city is listed, use the rate of the city.

If the city is not listed, but the county is listed; use the rate of the county.

For areas not listed (city or county), the maximum reimbursable rate is up to $93.

DFPS allows state employees to claim less than the maximum meal reimbursement rate and use the amount of the reduction to increase the maximum lodging reimbursement rate.

For a reimbursement rate in excess of the federal rate schedule, the commissioner or designee determines that local conditions necessitate a higher rate for a particular in-state location, based on one of the two following criteria:

  •   The increased rate request would be a cost savings to the agency; for example, additional transportation costs to travel from an approved lodging facility to the duty point equals or exceeds the requested rate increase. Comparison rates must be provided on Form 4181 Comparison Tool – Increasing the Maximum Lodging Rate.

  •   The approved lodging establishments within the area of the duty point may be deemed unsafe for the traveler. A valid justification statement must be provided on Form 4180 Request to Increase Maximum Lodging Rate.

If applicable, the traveler also completes Form 4180 or Form 4181, including the qualifying criteria, and submits the form to the commissioner or designee. The form must be approved and attached to the Travel Claim for reimbursement.

2312 In-State Travel Reimbursement for Meals

Travel Policy June 2014

For in-state meal reimbursement, DFPS reimburses for actual out-of-pocket cost up to $27 per day for the first and last day of travel associated with overnight stays. Meal reimbursements for overnight stays other than first and last dates of travel remain at actual out-of-pocket cost up to $36 per day.

The reimbursement of meals should not be a flat claim of the maximum reimbursement rate per day. It should be a claim for true out-of-pocket meal cost not to exceed the daily state reimbursement allowance.

Itemized receipts must be submitted with the travel claim if groceries are purchased. Groceries purchased for meals can only be purchased one day at a time, for the meals associated with that day.

Meal expenses are not reimbursed if they were incurred within 50 miles of the traveler's headquarters or residence.

Travelers are not reimbursed for unauthorized lodging or meal expenses (see 2330 Ineligible Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals).

2320 Out-of-State Travel Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

Travel Policy November 2017

Out-of-state travel is requested and approved through the Travel Authorization (TA) process in the eTravel system. A request must be approved at least 10 workdays before the traveler’s departure.

Out-of-state travel must be preapproved by:

  •   the traveler’s immediate supervisor; and

  •   the deputy regional director, regional director, or division director.

For travel outside of Texas but within the continental United States, travelers are reimbursed actual costs not to exceed the federal per diem rates found on the U.S. General Services Administration’s Domestic Maximum Per Diem Rates page. Travelers must check the per diem rates page each time before making travel reservations, as rates change periodically.

For a reimbursement rate in excess of the Federal Rate Schedule, the commissioner or designee determines that local conditions necessitate a higher rate for a particular out-of-state location, based on one of the two following criteria:

  •   The increased rate request would be a cost savings to the agency; for example, additional transportation costs to travel from an approved lodging facility to the duty point equals or exceeds the requested rate increase. Comparison rates must be provided on Form 4181 Comparison Tool – Increasing the Maximum Lodging Rate.

  •   The approved lodging establishments within the area of the duty point may be deemed unsafe for the traveler. A valid justification statement must be provided on Form 4180 Request to Increase Maximum Lodging Rate.

For Out-of-State travel, the traveler completes the TA process in eTravel. If applicable, the traveler also completes Form 4180 or Form 4181, including the qualifying criteria, and submits the form to the commissioner or designee. The 4180 form must be approved at least 10 workdays before departure and attached to the Travel Claim for reimbursement. If the form is approved, the traveler attaches it to the claim in eTravel.

DFPS allows state employees to claim less than the maximum meal reimbursement rate and use the amount of the reduction to increase the maximum lodging reimbursement rate.

2321 Out-of-Country Travel Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

Travel Policy May 2015

Out-of-country (foreign) travel must be approved 10 workdays in advance of the departure by the traveler. The following pre-approvals are required:

  •   Traveler’s immediate supervisor

  •   Deputy regional director, or the regional director, or division director

  •   Commissioner or designee

Staff must complete a Travel/Car Rental Authorization (Form 4186). For purposes of this approval process, travel to any territory of the U.S. is not considered foreign travel. Foreign travel by any DFPS employee on state business must be for the benefit of the state of Texas.

A person requesting approval of travel to a nation that is subject to a Travel Advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State, constituting a warning against or restriction on travel by U.S. citizens to such nation, must include with the travel request a separate written and signed statement indicating that the person is aware of the Travel Advisory and the potential risks associated with travel to the nation under the advisory.

Approved travel requests must be re-approved if the departure or return date changes by more than 168 hours, or if the expenses increase by more than 10 percent.

Out-of-state travel requirements for lodging and meals should be followed. Receipts for meals are not required.

Travelers are not reimbursed for unauthorized lodging or meal expenses (see 2330 Ineligible Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals).

2322 Washington D.C. Travel Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

Travel Policy May 2015

Travel to Washington D.C. must be approved 10 workdays in advance of the departure of the traveler. The following pre-approvals are required:

  •   The traveler’s immediate supervisor

  •   The deputy regional director, regional director, or division director

Staff must complete the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel.

State agency personnel that travel to Washington, D.C. for activities that involve obtaining or spending federal funds, or that impact federal policies, must inform the Office of State-Federal Relations (OSFR) about the trip. The agency must include information about the timing and purpose of the trip and provide OSFR with the name of an individual who may be contacted for additional information. The OSFR form is completed by the traveler, and is faxed or emailed to the OSFR. The employee then attaches the form to the travel reimbursement claim. In eTravel, the traveler attaches the form to the online Travel Claim.

Out-of-state travel requirements for lodging and meals should be followed. Receipts for meals are not required.

Travelers are not reimbursed for unauthorized lodging or meal expenses (see 2330 Ineligible Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals).

2330 Ineligible Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

Travel Policy June 2014

Travelers may not be reimbursed for unauthorized lodging or meal expenses. These include, but are not limited to:

  •   travel on business that does not include an overnight stay;

  •   trips less than 50 miles from an authorized traveler’s HQ and residence (both residence and headquarters must be more than 50 miles from duty point). See 2351 Fifty-Mile Limit;

  •   amounts greater than the allowable per day reimbursement;

  •   use of noncontract lodging establishment (without exception noted);

  •   charges not related to business, such as movies, room service, personal phone calls, and so on;

  •   alcoholic beverages, tips and gratuities;

  •   failure to provide proof of lodging expense with a zero balance; and

  •   meal expenses incurred within 50 miles of the traveler's headquarters or residence.

2340 Exception for Authorized Travelers Eligible to Receive Actual Reimbursement for Lodging and Meals

Travel Policy June 2014

Actual costs of lodging and meals (up to the maximums) are allowable for the commissioner and authorized travelers either representing or traveling with the commissioner. Authorized travelers must receive written approval before traveling, and must include a copy of that approval with the travel reimbursement claim, along with lodging receipts.

Reimbursement of actual expenses for lodging and meals is limited to twice the maximum rates for lodging and meal expenses for which authorized travelers are eligible to receive when traveling within Texas, or outside of Texas and within the continental United States.

2350 General Lodging Requirements for Authorized Travelers

2351 Fifty-Mile Limit

Travel Policy June 2014

Lodging and meal expenses are reimbursed for overnight trips of more than 50 miles from an employee’s business HQ and residence (both residence and headquarters must be more than 50 miles from duty point). To claim lodging or meals for overnight trips less than 50 miles away, a traveler attaches a memo with executive level management approval to the travel claim.

2352 Lodging Receipts

Travel Policy June 2014

Travelers must attach their original lodging receipts to their travel claims indicating a “zero balance.” The expense cannot be reimbursed without the original receipt. The name and address of the commercial lodging establishment, the name of the employee, the single room rate, and a daily itemization of the lodging charges must be included on a lodging receipt.

In eTravel, the traveler scans the original lodging receipt and attaches it to his or her Travel Claim. The “original” lodging receipt must be maintained until the audit is complete and the reimbursement is processed.

When using an online booking agency, the traveler might not be reimbursed for the total expenses. Online booking agencies normally include their fee with the miscellaneous expenses and do not itemize. Online booking fees are not reimbursable.

If the receipt is lost, the authorized traveler must contact the lodging entity and request a detailed statement for that travel expense. If the authorized traveler cannot obtain a detailed statement from the lodging entity, the traveler must provide a statement on the travel claim that the receipt is not available and provide proof of payment.

Proof of payment includes a photo or fax copy of one of the following documents:

  •   A letter from the lodging establishment certifying the stay with itemized expenses

  •   A copy of the cancelled check

  •   The charge card receipt

If any of the above mentioned items are used they must indicate:

  •   the travel dates;

  •   the authorized traveler’s name;

  •   the name and address of the lodging establishment;

  •   the itemized amounts charged for lodging (such as state tax, room rate, city tax, and so on); and

  •   the number of occupants in the room.

Receipts must be from commercial lodging establishments. When lodging at a private residence, the traveler can only claim reimbursement for meals at commercial eating establishments.

In eTravel, the traveler must provide a statement in the Comments field denoting that the receipt is not available. Acceptable “Proof of Payment” documents, as noted in this section, are scanned and attached to the online Travel Claim.

2353 Shared Lodging

Travel Policy June 2014

The state reimburses each person proportionately when two or more employees share the room. Each person must submit a travel claim, indicate on the travel claim that the room was shared with another employee, and provide the person’s name.

In eTravel, travelers indicate a room was shared with another employee, and provide the name in the Comments field of the online Travel Claim.

Examples

  •   Two employees share a room for one night at a cost of $90. Each can claim $45.

  •   Two employees share a room for one night at a cost of $160. Each can claim $80.

Taxes must be split and claimed evenly.

The state reimburses a single room rate when the room is shared with a nonemployee. The employee must indicate on the travel claim that the room was shared with a nonemployee.

In eTravel, the traveler provides the non-employee information in the Comments field.

If the individual listed on a lodging receipt is different from the authorized traveler named on the travel claim, the lodging receipt is acceptable if supporting documentation includes proof that the authorized traveler paid the lodging expenses for which the authorized traveler is claiming reimbursement. The proof may be in the form of a credit card receipt, a credit card statement, a canceled check, or a receipt from the individual listed on the lodging receipt.

In eTravel, the “proof” that the employee paid for the lodging expense must be scanned and attached to the online Travel Claim. The traveler must also provide an appropriate notation in the Comments field.

2360 Combining State and Personal Business

Travel Policy May 2015

If the authorized traveler saves the state money by taking personal time and returning from a state business trip at a later time, the traveler must indicate the savings on the travel claim. Both off-duty and on-duty times must be shown, with a claim only for on-duty times.

In eTravel, both times must be listed on the Trips tab in the Duties Performed field, and the savings must be recorded in the Comments field.

Example

An authorized traveler leaves Austin at noon Tuesday to travel to El Paso on business. The business ends Friday at 11 a.m. The traveler goes on personal leave at 11 a.m. and returns to Austin Sunday, departing at 2:35 p.m. and arriving at 5:25 p.m. The round-trip airfare with a return Friday would have cost $258. The round-trip with the return Sunday cost $229, which saved $29. The traveler states on the claim:

      “Went off official duty (Friday date) at 11 a.m. Went on official duty (Sunday date) at 2:35 p.m. Airfare with Friday return would have cost $258. Airfare with return on Sunday is $229, which saved $29.”

Should the return from personal leave cost more than had the traveler returned immediately after concluding business, the claim may only be for the cost of the earlier return.

2370 Travel Expenses Incurred to Attend a Funeral

Travel Policy June 2014

DFPS may reimburse an employee for travel expenses incurred while attending the funeral of a state employee, a board or advisory council member, or a member of the legislature, with prior written approval from the regional or division director.

The expense is reimbursable only to the extent it could have been reimbursed had it been incurred while conducting official state business.

The written approval must be attached to the travel claim to be reimbursed.

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