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Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance Office (SPARC)

Guidelines for Travel Paid by External Grants

Version: October 2017

In order to comply with federal regulations regarding travel expenses, the following guidelines have been developed to augment L&C’s Travel Policy and Travel and Entertainment Expense Report (TER) Form. Please adhere to the following instructions for any travel charged to an external grant.

1. Paying for Personal Meals – Do not use L&C Pcard
Travel in the United States
Use your own funds for meals and request Per Diem reimbursement on the TER
Reason: Using a Pcard results in a significant administrative burden for all parties (and doesn’t eliminate the need for you to complete a TER). Further, the Per Diem amount is yours to spend as you see fit and it doesn’t require receipts.

Remember:

  • Per Diem is a maximum allowed – not a requirement. You may choose to claim less than the maximum, and you may limit your staff to less than the maximum as is reasonable based on the particulars of the grant budget or trip (e.g., camping during field work).
  • Per Diem includes a set rate for each of three meals per day, and must be reduced by the allowed amount for any meal provided by another party (e.g. conference lunch included in registration or working group meals paid by PI).
  • Per Diem and meal reimbursement is not allowed for day-trips where individuals return home at night.

International Travel
L&C does not have a standard per Diem for international travel. As such, please use your own funds (or L&C travel advance) and submit all receipts with your completed TER. Reasonable and approved meal expenses will be reimbursed, not to exceed the Department of State travel allowances for foreign areas.

2. Lodging Rate – use the GSA lodging rate as maximum allowed
Reason: L&C does not have a standard lodging rate. Expenses for lodging should not exceed the GSA lodging rate or the rate negotiated by L&C, whichever is lower, for visiting collaborators staying in Portland. An exception to the GSA rate is allowed when the primary lodging is to stay at a conference site hotel; upgrades within the hotel are not allowed. Other exceptions to the GSA lodging rate will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

3. Air Travel on a Federal Grant – A U.S. carrier must be used.
Reason: Provisions of the Fly America Act require air travel with U.S. carriers, unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., a U.S. air carrier is not available). More information can be found here. Contact SRO before you book a nonrefundable ticket.

4. Need Cash? Request a Travel Advance, do not use a P-card for Cash Advance
Reason: Using a P-card for cash advances, either in or out of the US, will result in extra transaction fees and charges—not allowable or budgeted in your grant budget. L&C will provide a travel advance ($250 or more), which is considered to be a loan until a TER is complete and approved.

5. Allowable Working Group Meals - Use object code 7010 for working group meals
Reason: L&C policy and the TER uses “Entertainment” for group meals, including instances where a PI might need to purchase meals for students while traveling during a conference, other meeting, or fieldwork. Federal grants categorically disallow entertainment expenses, so coding group meals as entertainment could be an audit risk. Please use object code 7010 for working group meals, and list all people served in the notes section, along with an agenda. You may use your Pcard for approved group meals, including buying groceries if applicable, but remember no alcohol may be purchased on a federal grant.

6. Itinerary Required - Include time of departure and time of return in the notes section of the TER form, or attach your flight itinerary
Reason: L&C policy states that “Meals which could reasonably be eaten at home on the dates of departure and return should also be deducted from the daily rate.” Although federal guidelines on this default to L&C policy the TER form doesn’t currently ask for departure and return time. For federal purposes, travel times need to be documented in order to maintain consistency and determine what is “reasonable”.

7. Agenda Required - Attach a meeting or conference agenda to the TER, if applicable
Reason: L&C and federal guidelines state that when meals are provided by a third party (e.g., inclusive hotel breakfast or conference lunch covered by registration), the cost of those meals must be subtracted from the daily per diem total. For federal purposes, documentation of the conference/meeting agenda is required to demonstrate compliance.

8. Student or other non-PI charges to your grant – Please review and approve
Reason: Ultimately you, as PI, are responsible for your grant budget. Please refer to L&C’s travel policy and the above to make sure that all student and other spending is reasonable, allocable, and allowable.

9. Local Travel – is allowed for project specific meetings and conferences
Reason: L&C policy allows for mileage and parking to be reimbursed when traveling from L&C campus for local project related meetings. For example, parking at the conference center while attending a conference in Portland is allowable. Transportation costs between home and campus are never allowed.

10. TER Approval – A Travel Expense Report is required for all travel charged to an external grant and should be submitted to the Sponsored Research Office for review; the SRO will submit to Business Office for payment
Reason: The Sponsored Research Office (SRO) will confirm that travel expenses charged to a grant are aligned with the approved budget, and that the documentation and expenses comply with regulations. Further, having complete information will enable SRO to more accurately track expenses.

Reference:
L&C Travel and Entertainment Policy: https://www.lclark.edu/live/profiles/3675-travel-and-entertainment-policy

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