Additional and Exceptional Approvals for Travel, Meetings, and Entertainment

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This guide was created to help Kuali Financial System users quickly determine which common expenses need additional or exceptional approval and learn how that approval is granted. If you're looking for general information about how to get reimbursed for travel or business expenses, you should first check with your unit's financial manager. Each unit on campus has its own process for reimbursing travel and entertainment expenses.

The Basics

Two UC policies govern how UCI handles expenses for travel, entertainment, and meetings:

These policies set out exactly what types of expenses are allowed at UCI and what documentation is needed to be reimbursed. UCI also has two related policies:

The Normal Approval Process

All Travel and Event Management (TEM) expenses should be submitted through the Kuali Financial System (KFS). If you follow the guidelines and rules in the above policies, you can use the default approval workflow built into KFS to be reimbursed.

When is Exceptional or Additional Approval Required?

Exceptional approval is needed when you are seeking an exception to the rules in the policies linked above. Additional approval is required for a handful of entertainment expenses—listed here—that require a higher level of review.

Who Grants Exceptional/Additional Approval?

Any administrators with an official Delegation of Authority to do so may grant exceptional or additional approval. A Delegation of Authority is a formal document that grants significant authority and responsibility to a position title—not to an individual—for a specified matter. Only some delegations of authority may be further re-delegated to a subordinate. The following titles have Irvine Delegations of Authority (IDA) to grant exceptional and additional approval for both travel and entertainment expenses:

  • The Executive Vice Chancellor
  • The Associate Executive Vice Chancellor
  • All Vice Chancellors
  • All Associate Vice Chancellors
  • All Deans
  • The Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

This is only a partial list. To see precisely who can approve what, review IDA 324 and IDA 444 and their associated redelegations.

Who Approves Payments and Reimbursements to Deans or Vice Chancellors?

UC Policy BUS-79 requires that payments and reimbursements being made directly to deans or vice chancellors must be routed to the Vice Chancellor of Planning & Budget for approval. The office of Vice Chancellor Meredith Michaels has created the following guide to help users understand what does and does not require approval from the vice chancellor.

KFS and Exceptional/Additional Approval

The Kuali Financial System does not know when your expenses need a higher level of approval. Because of this, you need to manually ad-hoc route your reimbursement to an administrator with the authority to grant exceptional or additional approval when necessary.

Three Types of Approval for Travel and Entertainment Expenses

Normal Approval

Exceptional Approval

Additional Approval

This is the most common type of approval. If your travel and entertainment expenses conform to UCI travel and entertainment guidelines, the default approval workflow built into the Kuali Financial System is sufficient. Exceptional Approval is required whenever an expense does not conform to UCI travel and entertainment guidelines. If you are seeking an exception to the rules set forth in the policies linked at the beginning of this guide, you need to request exceptional approval. Certain entertainment expenses—listed later in this guide—require Additional Approval. These expenses are not considered exceptions to UCI guidelines. Instead these expenses are simply deemed to need a higher level of approval.
Who Can Grant It? Department heads and employees who have been granted signature authority are responsible for approving routine, within-guidelines expenses for both travel and entertainment.

Because signature authority is built into KFS, the default Travel and Entertainment (TEM) e-document approval workflow is all you need.
Who Can Grant It? Any administrator with an official delegation of authority may grant exceptional approval, including those titles listed on the previous page. All UCI delegations of authority are available online.

Because KFS doesn’t know when an expense requires exceptional approval, you must ad-hoc route your e-document to the appropriate approver.
Who Can Grant It? Any administrator with an official delegation of authority can grant additional approval, including those titles listed on the previous page. All UCI delegations of authority are available online.

Because KFS doesn’t know when an expense requires additional approval, you must ad-hoc route your e-document to the appropriate approver.
Signature Authority

Subordinates can be given Signature Authority, allowing them to approve ordinary, within-guidelines expenditures on the behalf of an administrator or department head. However, Signature Authority is not authority to grant exceptional or additional approval to a policy. In the past, signature authority was set up using paper forms. In the electronic environment of KFS, signature authority is granted and recorded electronically via KSAMS.

Other Considerations

The approval requirements in your department may be stricter than those listed in this guide. Check with your department to see if there is a set procedure for handling exceptional/additional approval.

For All Expenses: No one is ever allowed to approve payments to themselves. In this situation, another approver must be ad-hoc routed into the KFS e-document’s workflow.

Travel and Entertainment
Situations that Require Additional or Exceptional Approval

Below are some common situations where additional or exceptional approval would be required for reimbursement. Because any exception to the guidelines requires exceptional approval, this list does not cover every situation. The complete guidelines can be found in the UC policies listed in this guide.

Common Travel and Entertainment Situations Requiring EXCEPTIONAL Approval

Missing Required Supporting Documentation Exceptional approval is required if a traveler cannot provide required supporting documentation. This would include, for example, receipts for travel expenses like airfare, lodging, car rentals, and anything else exceeding $75.
Travel Packages Without Itemize Expenses Travel packages purchased from Internet vendors often do not include itemized expenses. Unless the vendor separately itemizes each aspect of the package (e.g. hotel charges, airfare, car rental, etc.), you will need exceptional approval.
Meal Expenses Exceeding the Daily Limit This should be avoided. Travelers will not be reimbursed for the cost of meals beyond the M&IE limit (except in extremely rare circumstances with the approval of the Chancellor.)
Paying for Another Person’s Travel Unless part of designated group travel, exceptional approval is required for reimbursement of expenses paid on behalf of other people, except in the case co-travelers sharing a room.
High-Cost Upgrades to Car Rentals An intermediate-size car rental can be normally reimbursed, but higher-cost upgrades require exceptional approval.
Valet Parking Valet parking charges in excess of normal parking charges are the responsibility of the traveler unless exceptional approval is acquired.
Flying First Class, Business Class or Using Premium Services Unless you meet the criteria listed below, traveling first class, business class, extra legroom, seat upgrade or using services like priority boarding, early check-in; all require a written authorization from the Chancellor. This should be avoided.

Exceptional approval is not required when flying first or business class or using premium services is necessary to reasonably accommodate a disability or medical need of a traveler for chronic or temporary medical conditions. You also do not need exceptional approval when first or business class is the only option available, is less expensive or significantly less time consuming, or when overnight travel will not allow the opportunity to rest before the commencement of working hours.

Documentation of such circumstances should be provided, but do not disclose personal medical information. The department should keep on file the doctor’s note pertaining to the chronic or temporary medical condition.
Any Other Situation Where You are Seeking an Exception to UCI’s Travel and Entertainment Rules and Guidelines UCI processes travel and entertainment expenses in accordance with these two UC policies: Additional information and guidelines can be found in these two UCI policies:

Entertainment Expenses that Require ADDITIONAL Approval

These expenses are not considered exceptions to UCI guidelines. Instead these expenses are simply deemed to need a higher level of approval. Administrators who can provide exceptional approval for entertainment and business expenses can also grant additional approval.

Employee Morale-Building Activities Meals provided to employees as part of morale-building activity, including retirement and recognition receptions, etc., require additional approval.
Event Tickets Additional approval is required to provide tickets to prospective donors, employees, or student appointees in connection with an entertainment event.
Meals for Spouses/Partners The expense of providing meals to a spouse, domestic partner, or other partner requires additional approval and must serve a bona fide university business purpose.
Cash Contributions as Part of a Nonprofit Fundraising Event Additional approval and other additional documentation is required if a nonprofit community or charitable fundraising event includes a cash donation as part of the meal or registration fee.

This guide does not cover all cases that require exceptional approval. If you're unsure if something requires exceptional approval, contact travel-accounting@uci.edu.