The annual update of the federal per diem rates by the General Services Administration (GSA) occurred on Oct. 1. The State of Arkansas uses those amounts as a maximum to be reimbursed for meals and lodging. The amount allowed in Pulaski County for a hotel increased from $91 to $94 and the amount allowed for meals remains at $59. The standard Arkansas rate, which applies to all locations without specified rates, increased from $89 to $91 for a hotel and the standard rate for meals remains at $51.
When auditing travel reimbursements, UALR must audit the amounts charged for hotel rooms. Even if the hotel room was paid for by a travel card, the receipt has to be included with the TR-1. The amount is checked against the maximum allowed by the State, and if it exceeds that, the travel accountant will look at the travel authorization (TA) document for the pre-approval and justification for exceeding that amount.
Those justifications are occasionally reviewed by Legislative Audit. It would be unacceptable to an auditor if only a signature approving the hotel rate is included; some justification must be provided. Therefore, when approving the rate to exceed the amount allowed by the State, please provide a signature and justification. An example of acceptable justification is “Conference Hotel” or “Other hotels in area were booked up.”
Finally, we encourage employees to visit our travel website at https://ualr.edu/vcfa/home/resources/travel/ for helpful travel authorization and other related travel information.