Financial Services Manual (FIN)

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Effective: 4/11/1985

Revised: 3/1/2008

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FIN 420–02: Business Meals, Food, and Related Expenses

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Purpose

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To pay for business meals, food, and related expenses

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Source

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University policy

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Applicability

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This policy covers all expenditures made for business meals, food, and related expenses (except for employee food charges reimbursed by a Travel Expense Claim form) and includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. business meals
  2. receptions/banquets/luncheons
  3. food and refreshment at conferences/workshops/seminars

    and

  4. food and refreshment supplies.

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Policy

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Expenditures for business meals, food, and related expenses must be paid from the following sources:

  1. unrestricted gift agency/orgs
  2. conference, seminar, and workshop agency/orgs

    or

  3. other local agency/orgs, when the business meals, food, and related expenses are consistent with the purpose of the agency/orgs.

Meals and nonalcoholic beverages should generally cost $40 or less per person. For meals and nonalcoholic beverages costing more than $40 per person, special approvals are required (see “Approvals,” below). If the meal cost is anticipated to be more than $40 per person, then the needed approval should be obtained prior to the meal. (Alcoholic beverages may not be paid for with university funds from any source under any circumstances.)

Gratuity for meals and nonalcoholic beverages should generally not be more than around 15 percent of the total meals, nonalcoholic beverages, and tax. Gratuity is not, under any conditions, to exceed 20 percent. Deduct all alcohol-related costs before calculating the gratuity for reimbursement or payment by ASU. Service charges that are greater than 20 percent that are part of a contract dealing with food and facilities provided as part of a program are allowable as long as they are within the range of typical service charges provided for those services.

A Business Meals and Related Expense Form is not required for the purchase of beverages that are primarily provided for office visitors, such as coffee, soda, and water.

Since business meals, food and related expenses are often not appropriate on sponsored project agency/orgs, confer with your Sponsored Projects administrator before making any commitment of funds for this purpose. Business meals, food, and related expenses cannot be charged to sponsored project agency/orgs, unless specifically authorized by the grant or contract.

State funds cannot be used to pay for business meals, food, and related expenses, regardless of the purpose. State funds may be used to reimburse food, but not alcoholic beverages, while in travel status under the following circumstances:

  1. ASU staff while in travel status, in accordance with the travel per diem amounts (see FIN 509, “Meals and Lodging”)
  2. meal expense reimbursements to interviewees while in travel status for an interviewee’s own meals incurred during a visit to ASU, but not the meals of any ASU faculty or staff to have a business meal with the interviewee (see FIN 421–02, “Interviewees”)

    and

  3. meal expense reimbursements to guest lecturers, consultants, and other independent contractors while in travel status, but not the meals of any ASU faculty or staff to have a business meal with a guest lecturer, consultant, or other independent contractor (see FIN 421–01, “Guest Lecturers, Consultants, and Other Independent Contractors”).

Reimbursement of food while in travel status is coded to the appropriate travel or expense reimbursement code, but not to the food object code, 7390 06.

Standard business practice dictates, and the university’s internal and external auditors require, certain specified documentation for business meals, food, and related expenses For this reason, the Business Meals and Related Expenses Form must be completed for every food expense, regardless of the dollar amount. It is important that the public purpose being served is adequately documented on the form since public funds are being used. A list of attendees also must be documented on the form. If, however, a large group is present at the event and an attendee list is not available, it is acceptable to state the approximate number in attendance and, if known, mention the related ASU departments of affiliation if non-ASU related.


No External Party

If no external party is present at the business meal, i.e., all are ASU employed personnel, the ASU person authorizing the food expense must clearly justify why such an expense is appropriate.

Examples of appropriate food expenses where only ASU employees are in attendance:

  1. departmental workshop where the group was together over lunch in order to build a cohesive working team.
  2. appreciation to a group of ASU staff upon successful completion of a special project or in recognition of a commendable accomplishment.

    and

  3. search committee meeting during a mealtime when there is no other time to get the search committee together.

Example of when a food expenditure is not acceptable: Frequent lunches for the same two ASU employees who meet often to discuss university business, e.g., several times a month.

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Procedures

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On-Campus Expenses

On-campus business meals, food, and related expenses are defined as business meals or related expenses paid directly by the university to its food service contractor by an Internal Purchase Order (PO document). Business meals at the ASU University Club may be paid with the ASU Purchasing Card (P-Card) or an Internal Purchase Order.

Departments may submit either a specific order transaction document for an event or a blanket transaction document covering the entire fiscal year. D


For a Specific Order Transaction Using Online PO Document


Responsibility
Action
Requesting department
  1. Enter the Internal Purchase Order information on an online Advantage Purchase Order input screen (PO document). Include the following items in the description field:
    1. name and description of the function
    2. expected number of participants

      and

    3. date of the event.
Org manager
or
authorized signer
  1. Apply a level 1 approval to the transaction.
  2. Send a screen print of the document or an e-mail request with the PO document number, along with any necessary backup, to the university’s food service contractor (refer to the Purchasing and Business Services Policies and Procedures Manual—PUR 302–01, “Internal Purchase Orders”).
For catering or meals at the University Club:
  1. Submit a completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form, with the appropriate box checked, along with the PO document.
    Note: For meals at the University Club, the completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form may be submitted at the time of the meal.


For a Blanket Order Transaction Using Online PO Document


Responsibility
Action
Requesting department
  1. Enter the Internal Purchase Order information on an online Advantage Purchase Order input screen (PO). Include the following items in the description field:
    1. time period covered (e.g., 7/1/98 to 6/30/99)
    2. general purpose (e.g., various luncheons and other food purchases for the respective provost/vice provost/vice president)

      and

    3. expected participants (e.g., various college administrators and representatives of private industry).
Org manager
or
authorized signer
  1. Apply a level 1 approval to the transaction.
  2. Send a screen print of the document or an e-mail request with the PO document number, along with any necessary backup, to the university’s food service contractor (refer to the Purchasing and Business Services Policies and Procedures Manual—PUR 302–01, “Internal Purchase Orders”).
For meals at the University Club:
  1. Submit a completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form, with the appropriate box checked, at the time of the meal or shortly thereafter.
For catering:
  1. Submit a completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form, with the appropriate box checked, along with each specific catering contract.

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Off-Campus Expenses

Off-campus business meals and related expenses may be charged to the ASU Purchasing Card (P-Card). If the P-Card is used, departments need to maintain a completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form and original receipts (itemized when available) in the departmental files. Original receipts are required. Itemized receipts are preferred and may be required in certain circumstances before reimbursement is made. If meals exceed $40 per person, original itemized receipts are required.

Other payment options include POs or direct payment to vendors on a Payment Voucher (PV).

If no purchase order is to be issued and a vendor invoice has already been received for a purchase not requiring the issuance of an off-campus purchase order (see the Purchasing and Business Services Policies and Procedures Manual—PUR 301–02, “Purchases Not Requiring a Purchase Order”), or if an employee is seeking a reimbursement (see FIN 420–01, “Faculty and Staff Reimbursements”), a PV may be issued. For the vendor to receive payment or the employee to receive reimbursement, the PV must be accompanied by a Business Meals and Related Expenses Form and appropriate original receipts (itemized when available).

If reimbursement is requested for several business meals, food, and related expenses functions, only one documentation form is required. However, each of the functions must be listed on an attachment and the information required on the form included on that attachment.

If an off-campus purchase order is necessary for an event such as a large reception or banquet, a completed Business Meals and Related Expenses Form, along with a screen print of the online Off-Campus Purchase Request, must be sent to Purchasing and Business Services.

Approvals

The Business Meals and Related Expenses Form requires the following approval(s): D

Expenditure Approval Required
Meals and nonalcoholic beverages less than $40 per person Authorized agency/org signature or online approval of PV.
Meals and nonalcoholic beverages in excess of $40 per person Appropriate dean’s or director’s signature; if charge incurred by a dean/director, then appropriate provost/vice provost/vice president signature and original itemized receipts.
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Expenses Incurred in Travel Status

Business meals, food, and related expenses incurred while in travel status are reimbursed in accordance with this policy. Business meals, food, and related expenses can be claimed while in travel status when a non-ASU person is being hosted. No travel meal per diems are to be claimed for any meals reimbursed by the filing of a Business Meals and Related Expenses Form.

Expenses for business meals not exceeding $200 per meal may be claimed on a travel claim along with other travel expenses. Attach the Business Meals and Related Expenses Form to the travel claim, or document all the information from the Business Meals and Related Expenses Form on the travel claim.

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Cross-Reference

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For more information on allowed expenses, see FIN 401–03, “Prohibited Transactions.”

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