The following travel processes and procedures are applicable to all colleges, campuses, departments, offices, employees, and official guests of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) and are in agreement with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Travel Regulations.
Accountability and Responsibility
State law assigns the approval for travel to the administrative head of the university. The chancellor has been authorized to designate individuals within the university to act as agents in performing these duties.
The employee is responsible for completing travel documents, including the Spend Authorization (SA), Expense Report (ER), compiling required supporting documents, and providing justification for travel exceptions.
Managers and cost center managers are responsible for authorizing official business travel by approving the Spend Authorization. The managers must be aware of the following:
- Actual cost for employees to attend seminars, meetings, and training institutes.
- Reasonable and economical travel costs, state regulations, and the university’s travel policy.
- Meals or other expenses that are included in the registration fee.
- All employee Expense Reports must be completed for payment to the individual employee. Employees may not include expenses paid by another employee on their Expense Report.
In addition, the manager is responsible for ensuring that the employee is duly licensed in accordance with the requirements of all applicable state laws, the University of Arkansas System Vehicle Safety Program, and has completed the required forms authorizing the operation of a state vehicle and the associated release to obtain the employee’s traffic violation record.
The expense partner in Procurement Services is the individual responsible for providing final approval of travel as well as verifying that the travel is in compliance with state regulations and university travel policies.
The expense partner is the individual responsible for final approval of the Expense Report, verifying that all reimbursements to the employee are in compliance with state regulations and university travel policies, and that required receipts and documentation are furnished.
Authorization to Drive
Any employee or student operating a motor vehicle on official business or a sponsored trip, must be age 18 or older and complete an Authorization to Operate a Motor Vehicle form. (A guest of state operating a university-owned vehicle or a vehicle rented from our state contract must also be authorized to drive and complete the form.) This form acts as a release to permit UA Little Rock to check the driving record and is in compliance with the University of Arkansas System Vehicle Safety Program. Any driver found to have an unacceptable record will not be allowed to drive on university business.
Incidents that would deem a person as having an unacceptable driving record could include having excessive driving points (10+), a suspended or revoked driver’s license, a DWI offense, or a lack of liability insurance.
The authorization form should be submitted to Finance and Administration (SSC425 or email@example.com) with a legible copy of a driver’s license at least 10 calendar days prior to the travel date, to ensure enough time for the driving record check.
Once the driving record is received, a representative of Finance and Administration will inform the sponsor(s) or department head(s) of eligibility to drive on behalf of UA Little Rock.
Business Trip Defined
A business trip is defined as a bona fide trip while on assignment or at the direction of the supervisor for the purpose of furthering the business of the university. Business trips may include estimated costs or be at no cost to the university. Prior approval, granted by the traveling employee’s manager and cost center manager, is required on a Spend Authorization with estimated expenses before travel occurs. In certain situations, the pre-approval process may need to be modified to meet the specific needs of a department. In instances when an exception to these travel rules, regulations, and procedures is necessary, written approval by the Director of Procurement Services is required. Travel that is at no cost to the university does not require a Spend Authorization.
Direct Billed Expenses
Travel expenses for lodging, commercial transportation (airfare, bus, rail, rental vehicles, and taxi/shuttle, charter flights, privately owned aircraft), baggage fees (limited to one personal bag), parking charges, and conference registration may be direct billed to the university using a Central Travel Service (CTS) Account or a Travel Card (T-Card).
Meals for an individual employee are not permitted on any travel credit card issued by the State of Arkansas or UA Little Rock. Exemptions to the policy are granted in special circumstances prior to travel and require a letter of justification. Meal expenses and exemptions to the policy for group student travel must also be pre-approved through Procurement Services.
When expenses are paid via direct pay, the employee shall obtain detailed receipts for each expense and attach them to the Expense Report.
Exceptions to these procedures will only be granted on a case-by-case basis with final approval being given by Procurement Services. Such approvals should be obtained prior to any travel or travel-related purchase.
Incidental and Miscellaneous Expenses
All incidental and miscellaneous expenses, whether or not directly connected with travel (such as postage, small emergency supplies, etc.) may be allowed with adequate justification to perform official duties. Detailed receipts are required and must be attached to the Expense Report.
Examples of incidentals include but are not limited to:
- Additional baggage fees (allowed with justification and managerial approval).
- Transportation, shipping, or storage of items used for official university business, such as a presentation, are allowable expenses.
- Registration of conferences, conventions, and meetings is an allowable item of expense when supported by an itemized receipt, registration form, or notice of meetings, which states the amount. When a registration fee includes the cost of such items as meals or lodging, the traveler may not claim these as separate expenses without special authorization.
- Parking fees for parking a state-owned, leased, or privately-owned vehicle.
- Valet parking may be reimbursed only if the employee provides written justification that shows valet parking was the only option available or the most economical option.
- Taxi, public transportation, or rideshare fee.
- Reimbursement shall be limited to official business only and may not include tips.
- Toll Charges for private, rental or university-owned vehicles are reimbursable and may be claimed on the Expense Report, with appropriate detailed receipts attached.
- Communication expenses, such as telephone calls or internet usage fees for official university business, shall be allowed only when necessary for the transaction of official business. Additional justification is required.
Expenses for personal entertainment, valet services (unless that is the only parking available at the hotel), flowers, laundry, alcoholic beverages, personal telephone calls, cleaning, personal medical supplies/toiletries, movies, or other similar services are not reimbursable.
Tips are only for wait staff at full service food establishments. Tips provided to delivery drivers, rideshare, taxi, chartered or public transport operators are not allowed.
Expenses for rental of space, decorations, entertainment, or other arrangements in connection with banquets held solely for the benefit of employees are not reimbursable.
No expenses for meals will be allowed within the city or town of the employee’s official station unless special authorization is given by the manager, department head, or vice chancellor. Under no circumstances should the maximum daily federal per diem rates for meals be exceeded. The employee’s manager may give approval for all other travel-related requests. The justification must show a benefit to the state, not a convenience for the employee.
When traveling internationally, student travelers must be registered with the Study Abroad Office; faculty and staff travelers must be cleared by the Export Control Office PRIOR to processing any travel request. Please attach your completed Foreign Travel Export Control Checklist to your Spend Authorization.
If you are contemplating international travel, please contact the Export Control Office as early as possible before the trip.
The purchase of business class tickets for international flights and preferred seating, with manager approval, will be an allowable expense when flying internationally. Individuals whose travel is supported by federal funds should follow the guidance provided in the Fly America Act, in regards to using American flag carrier airlines.
Reimbursement for lodging is limited to the single room occupancy rate plus fees and applicable taxes. The maximum daily allowance set by the GSA, without special authorization, will be limited to the federal per diem rate depending on the location for both in state and out of state travel.
Please keep the following in mind when preparing to travel on university business:
- Lodging per diem excludes room tax and fees and should only be exceeded by the room tax and fees amount, unless special authorization is given by Procurement Services justifying the need to exceed the standard reimbursement rate.
- The sales tax and fees must be itemized on the Expense Report with a detailed receipt submitted.
- If a room is occupied by more than one person, the single room rate must be noted on the receipt.
- An itemized receipt is required for lodging. A credit card receipt is not acceptable.
Special Authorization for Lodging
The maximum reimbursement allowance for lodging may be exceeded with a clear justification that details the benefit to the state and university rather than the employee’s convenience. For example, if a conference is held at a hotel where a block of rooms are offered to conference attendees for either a reduced group rate or government rate in excess of the maximum lodging per diem for that city/area, the manager may approve the justification as a benefit of the state.
When traveling on behalf of the university, reimbursement for meals shall be limited to actual expenditures. While there is a maximum rate set by the GSA, employees may only be reimbursed up to the federal per diem limit. Please keep the following in mind when preparing to travel on university business:
- Although meal receipts are not required for employee expenses, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain records of all travel documents, including meal receipts.
- The maximum per diem allowance for actual meal expenses INCLUDES taxes and up to 15% tip (see Calculating Tips below), as outlined by Arkansas law.
- The employee is only eligible for 75% of the daily allowance for meals on the first and last day of travel. Under no circumstances will the first and last day of travel reimbursement exceed 75% of the daily meal allowance.
- For partial days, meals may only be reimbursed in proportion to the time in travel status.
- If travel covers a two day period, then meal reimbursement is up to 75% of the daily allowance for each day.
- Meal reimbursement requests must be reduced for meals provided as part of a conference registration.
- Alcohol is not an allowable reimbursable expense.
Tip on meals for individual travel, which are limited to allowable per diem rates, cannot exceed 15%. The example below details proper tip calculation:
Pursuant to the GSA, the maximum allowance for a meal during lunchtime hours in Dallas, Texas is $17.00 (includes applicable sales tax and tip). If your meal is $14.00, a maximum tip of 15%, or $2.10, is allowed. This is calculated by taking the total, $14.00, and multiplying it by 0.15. The actual reimbursable meal expense is $16.10, which is below the $17.00 limit.
If a restaurant has a set gratuity rate for groups, the restaurant’s established rate will supersede the state’s gratuity policy. The group rate should be included on the receipt.
Meals provided by a common carrier or a complimentary meal provided by a hotel does not affect the maximum meal allowance per the GSA.
Official Function Meal Reimbursements
When asking for reimbursement for meals that fall under the Official Function Policy, an itemized meal receipt is always required. Any gratuity, regardless of description, shall not exceed 15% of the total bill without authorization and approval by the director of procurement, manager, vice chancellor, or expense partner. An explanation of why the increased amount should be allowed must be included for consideration of an exception.
A completed Spend Authorization with an attached Special Meeting Form is required for each meal that is considered an official function.
Meals Included in Conference Registration
Meal reimbursement requests must be reduced for meals provided as part of the conference registration by deducting the appropriate amount as shown under the Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) breakdown at GSA.
Allowances may be made in writing to allow the traveler to claim meal reimbursement if any of the conditions below are met:
- The traveler is unable to consume the meal provided because of medical requirements or religious beliefs and purchased a substitute meal as a result.
- The traveler was unable to take part in the provided meal due to the conflict of official business.
Meal Reimbursement Without Overnight Lodging
Meal reimbursement is permitted only in connection with overnight travel, whether in state or out of state, unless special authorization is given (see Special Travel Authorizations). Justification for special authorization must show the benefit to the state. The maximum daily and individual meals within a day’s meal allowance, including sales tax and up to 15% gratuity, cannot exceed the destination location’s federal per diem rate.
The university maintains a fleet of vehicles for use by faculty and staff traveling on official business. Requests for a university vehicle should be made to Facilities Management at 501-569-3390. See UA Little Rock Policy 304.1 – University Vehicles for procedures on renting a vehicle from the motor pool. Additional motor pool information is available HERE.
UA Little Rock has adopted policy 205.1 Official Functions, which defines official functions and their appropriate expenditures for qualified events. The expenditure of funds for official functions must follow state accounting procedures, state purchasing laws, and the UA Little Rock policy, 308.7 Employee Travel. Procedures that should be followed to receive payment or reimbursement for expenses for official functions are located HERE.
Official Guests - Non-State Employees
A non-state employee, non-federal employee, or an official guest of the state, whose activities or services benefit the university or state, may be allowed reimbursement for actual expenses. Travel reimbursement for these individuals may be approved with an explanation of the activities by the department head or cost center manager in the memo of the Expense Report. It is the responsibility of each department to ensure that the guests are not being reimbursed from any other source for their travel expenses.
When possible the department should utilize a university-issued credit card, which may only be used by the cardholder themselves, to pay for the expenses of official guests. An Expense Report must be submitted in the name of the sponsoring university employee to reconcile the guest’s expenses.
A department head or designee may be reimbursed, whether travel is involved or not, for out-of-pocket expenses incurred on behalf of official guests. If the expenses were reimbursement eligible, an Expense Report with an approved Special Meeting Form and itemized receipts attached may be submitted. Any meals for the official guest must be itemized separately from state employees, as federal per diem rates do not apply to guests. A justification must be included on the Expense Report stating how the person for whom the expenditure was made benefited the university during his or her visit.
Should reimbursement eligible expenses be incurred by the official guest, the department will submit an Expense Report in the name of the guest. Itemized receipts are required for all guest expenses.
University employees may be reimbursed for travel expenses when required to travel away from their official station on state business. Official station, which must be designated as such in writing by the employer, is defined as:
- The geographic location or address where the employee normally reports for duty; OR
- Where the employee spends the majority of his or her productive time. (See Policy 309.2 – Travel and Employee Work Location – Official Station)
An employee’s residence shall be the city or town in which the individual has an abode or dwelling place. An employee whose resident city is a location other than his or her official station shall not be allowed mileage to travel between them except as provided for in Special Travel Authorizations below.
Employees requesting travel reimbursement must complete an Expense Report with itemized receipts attached within 14 working days after returning from the trip. Primary responsibility for authenticating travel reimbursement claims rests with the employee’s manager and cost center manager. The following shall apply to requests for travel reimbursement:
- Payment will only be made to the employee for allowable expenses.
- An employee may only be reimbursed for group travel expenses with itemized receipts and a list of travelers attached to the Expense Report.
- Reimbursement is not “per diem” and is to be claimed for actual meal and lodging expenses only, not to exceed the maximum allowable rates. The maximum per diem allowance for meals includes taxes and up to a 15% tip (calculated using the subtotal).
- If there is no special travel authorization, travel allowances set by the State of Arkansas will be observed, without waiver, for both in- and out-of-state travel.
- Reimbursement may not be claimed for meals, lodging, or any items provided free of charge for individuals or organizations.
- Meals included in a registration fee payment are not reimbursable without special authorization.
- Reimbursement may not be made for lodging in a private home.
- No expenses for meals or lodging may be allowed within the city or town of the employee’s official station except where allowed in these rules, regulations, and procedures.
- Detailed receipts are required for lodging, registration fees, rental cars, and incidentals including but not limited to: parking, phone calls, taxis, shuttles, and commercial travel. This includes all expenses that were not paid by the employee but were paid by purchase order, direct pay, or charged to a university credit card.
- Detailed receipts must be submitted for all miscellaneous expense items.
Under no circumstances will handwritten or modified receipts be accepted as an official receipt. A Missing Document Affidavit must be submitted for all missing receipts in order to be considered for reimbursement.
Receipts are required for the following items when requesting reimbursement:
- Lodging (itemized receipt). A credit card receipt is not acceptable. Reservation confirmation notice is not acceptable documentation.
- Commercial Airfare: The complete itinerary with passenger name, dates of travel, date and proof of purchase, seat class, and any service fees associated with ticket purchase. (Note: a confirmation notice is not acceptable documentation)
- Registration Fee
- Car Rental (Note: reservation confirmation notice is not acceptable documentation)
- Taxi, Shuttle, Rideshare
- Misc. items purchased while on travel status. (Example: film, ice, hardware, etc. Also a detailed explanation of why these misc. items had to be purchased.)
- Communication expenses
- Bag Fees
- Meals IF group student meals, or a meal that qualifies under the Official Function policy.
Special Travel Authorizations
Occasionally it may be necessary for an employee to perform unanticipated duties outside of their normal work schedule. In the event such duties require the employee to commute from his or her residence to the event location and back via privately owned vehicle, the employee may be reimbursed for mileage. A written justification must be included on the applicable Expense Report, stating the reason, that the time worked was authorized, and the consequences had the duty not been performed.
In accordance with Arkansas law, the cost of meals, lodging, mileage, and incidental expenses of state employees who are designated by his or her supervisor to attend official or special board meetings or other functions recognized as being in the performance of their official duties, regardless of the location of such functions in relationship to the official station, may be paid as reimbursement to the employee. This is subject to approval of the employee’s manager and depends on the travel expense. A justification showing the benefit to the state must be provided in those instances. Examples of situations in which justification would be necessary are when reimbursement for meals without overnight travel and/or hotel reimbursement are requested by the employee. The justification must be included on the Spend Authorization and the Expense Report for the reimbursement or payment of such expenses.
Student travel policy and procedures can be found at Travel for Students Representing UA Little Rock – Policy 309.5.
Travel may be achieved by plane, train, bus, taxi, rideshare, private vehicle or aircraft, rented or state-owned automobile; whichever method serves the requirements of the state most economically and advantageously.
Reimbursement for out-of-state travel will be the lesser of coach class airfare, rental vehicle, or the established rate of private care mileage, based on map mileage (whether paper-based or electronic) when driven. Use the Trip Optimizer to make this determination.
Private vehicle mileage shall be reimbursed and computed, using map mileage, between the travel site destination and the employee’s official station or residence, if leaving directly from the residence, whichever is less. Individuals may claim reimbursement at the rate per mile established by the Office of State Procurement in effect during the time the travel occurred.
Individuals driving their own private vehicles on official university business are entitled to vicinity mileage reimbursement. This amount must be listed separately from ‘official’ mileage and may be documented using street address and map mileage.
If traveling from the main campus to the Little Rock airport the individual may be reimbursed 11 miles one way or 22 miles round trip.
The university will reimburse for official miles driven only. The university assumes no responsibility for any maintenance, insurance, operational costs, accidents, or fines incurred by the operator of the vehicle while on official business for the university.
Vehicle rental shall be limited to official business only and shall be allowed only for those when this mode of travel is more economical than taxi, airport shuttle, etc. (use the Trip Optimizer to make this determination). Where available within the United States, the mandatory statewide vehicle rental contract must be used. If a statewide contract is not in effect when travel occurs, the employee must rent a vehicle from a company with the lowest available rates. Click HERE for additional car rental information.
Reimbursement for a rental car shall only be permitted if it was used on official business. Any portion of car rental expenses that is determined to be personal in nature will be the responsibility of the employee and the university will not reimburse the employee for such expenses.
IMPORTANT: When renting a vehicle, always pay special attention to the ‘walk around’ prior to renting the vehicle, which will identify any dents, etc., that may already be on the vehicle. If renting an SUV, van, or other large vehicles, make sure you inspect the top of the vehicle prior to renting in order to identify any imperfections.
Employees traveling by commercial air shall utilize coach accommodations, except in those instances where first class accommodations would be more economical for the state. No business or first class tickets may be purchased unless an approved exception by the manager and Expense Partner prior to purchase. For international flights, fares up to business class may be purchased if the manager allows it.
Commercial airline tickets should be purchased at least 14 days prior to travel. Airline tickets purchased with less than a 14-day advance require additional justification. This justification can be submitted with the Spend Authorization.
Changes to flight schedules that result in ticket change fees must be for a business reason and should be justified in your Expense Report. Unauthorized ticket change fees incurred for the convenience of the employee are the personal responsibility of the employee and will not be reimbursed.
Reimbursement of bag fees is limited to one bag per trip unless documentation is provided regarding the necessity of additional bags.
If purchasing a ticket with personal funds you have the option of using any reputable source, but you will not receive reimbursement until after you return from the trip.
Individuals whose travel is supported by federal funds should follow the guidance provided in the Fly America Act, in regards to using American flag carrier airlines.
Preferred seating for airline tickets should not be selected by travelers unless no other seating is available, and must be justified in writing on the Expense Report stating that this was the only seating available. With special authorization by the Expense Partner, preferred seating may be allowable. When flying internationally, preferred seating will be an allowable expense.
No upgrades in airline cost are permitted for the personal comfort of the traveler (i.e., upgrade from economy class just for additional legroom on flight).
TSA Pre-Check fees are not allowable.
When a privately owned aircraft is used for travel on university business, the rate of reimbursement will be in nautical miles at the rate as established by the chief fiscal officer of the state during the time the travel occurred.
When it is necessary for employees to charter a plane, the total cost is reimbursable. If, however, the plane was chartered only for the personal convenience of employees, reimbursement shall be limited to the cost of airfare for a “scheduled” airline flight to the same location.
Employee and student travel advances are subject to departmental approval and are considered a convenience not a requirement of the university. Departments that frequently travel or have frequently traveling faculty or staff are encouraged to apply for a T-Card. An employee may not obtain a travel advance for expenses that could have been charged to a T-Card. Guests of the university are not eligible for travel advances.
Employee travel advances may be made in amounts not to exceed 50% (domestic) or 75% (international) of the total anticipated, eligible, travel expenses, not including expenses paid by purchase order or direct pay. The minimum travel advance is $100.
Travel advances for student/client/group activities as defined by A.C.A. §19-4-904(d) may be made for 90% of the anticipated eligible expenses that are not paid with a purchase order or direct pay, with approval of the Spend Authorization and Student Trip Authorization.
A travel advance is obtained by completing a Spend Authorization, selecting the cash advance option, and attaching the signed Travel Advance Agreement. Please submit the Spend Authorization at least 14 working days before the trip to provide adequate processing time. The approved advanced funds will be issued to the traveler within three (3) days of the official travel. The employee will be notified when the travel advance has been deposited or when the check is available for pickup. If the employee opts for a manual check, they must personally pick up the check from the Cashier and provide a printed copy of the Spend Authorization.
Within 14 working days after the employee returns to their official station, the employee must complete and submit an Expense Report. The employee will be reimbursed for the total amount claimed and approved less the travel advance. In the event the employee owes any portion of the advance back to the university, it must be paid within 14 working days after return from the trip.
If a trip is cancelled, the traveler must return or repay the travel advance to the Cashier within five working days of the trip cancellation date.
Failure to submit the Expense Report in a timely manner may result in the employee being permanently barred from receiving a travel advance. Further, the university reserves the right to withhold any unpaid travel advance from the employee’s salary if the advance balance is not cleared within 14 working days after return from the trip. If the employee is no longer employed by the university and the travel advance has not been repaid by the borrower, the debt will be submitted to collections by an outside agency.
Travel agencies may be used to obtain transportation, lodging, and related travel expenses. Contact Procurement Services at 501-916-3144 for a list of approved travel agencies.
The Travel Card Program provides travelers a safe, effective, convenient, and commercially available method to pay for expenses related to official travel, including local travel. There are two types of travel cards available for official university business — a T-Card (can be issued to an individual or to a department as an expense card) or a CTS Account.
Travel cards are intended for official university travel-related use only and should never be used for personal travel or purchases. Membership registrations cannot be purchased with a T-Card or CTS Account.
T-Cards are issued to individual state employees who have been approved as cardholders by the university. The cardholders’ name and the university name are embossed on the card. Only the employee whose name is on the card can use the card. The cards are non-transferable.
To obtain a T-Card, full-time faculty or staff (students are not eligible) must complete the T-Card Employee Agreement. The T-Card Employee Agreement must be completed and signed by the cardholder, the department head, and the vice chancellor for finance and administration. If a department head requests a T-Card, the T-Card Employee Agreement must be signed by his or her immediate supervisor. The cardholder will then submit the application to Procurement Services for processing and approval.
Department Expense Cards and Accounts
Department Expense Cards are “physical” T-Cards issued in the name of the department while the CTS accounts are “cardless accounts” issued in the department’s name. These cards are strictly for official travel expenses only (lodging, airfare, rental cars, and conference registrations).
To obtain a CTS account or department Expense Card, the department travel coordinator must complete the CTS/Department Expense Card Employee Agreement. The CTS/Department Expense Card Employee Agreement must be completed and signed by the travel administrator, the unit (departmental) supervisor, and the vice chancellor of finance and administration. The coordinator will then submit the application to Procurement Services for processing and approval.
Expenses and Reconciliation
A traveler may elect to use a travel card to pay expenses for airfare, registration, lodging, incidentals, public transportation, and rental cars. The traveler must submit a Spend Authorization prior to departure, listing those charges made to the departmental travel card and estimated costs for reimbursement. Actual charges with supporting detailed receipts must be reconciled on the Expense Report when a university credit card is used.
New travel cardholders, coordinators, and approvers are required to attend face-to-face or virtually-led training before the card will be provided to the cardholder. All cardholders, coordinators, and approvers should also complete annual training.
Employees choosing to drive should download and use the Trip Optimizer to determine the most economical mode of transportation (rental vehicle vs. privately-owned vehicle), and include the optimizer results as an attachment to the Spend Authorization. The Trip Optimizer is also useful to justify driving a personal vehicle vs. flying.
Under Arkansas law, state agencies or institutions utilizing the services of volunteer workers who perform duties similar to state employees, are authorized to enforce internal travel policies that are more restrictive than those established by the chief fiscal officer of the state. Volunteers may utilize agency vehicles in the performance of their duties provided they are duly licensed in accordance with the requirements of all applicable state laws and have completed the required forms authorizing the operation of a state vehicle and the release to obtain his or her traffic violation record.