TRAVEL AND BUSINESS REIMBURSEMENTS

General Policy

SCIRE’s mission is to further medical science by promoting research and education. Relevant research or educational activities are appropriate and necessary expenditures required to help accomplish the corporate mission. Accordingly, funds donated to and accepted by SCIRE may be used to reimburse travel expenses associated with furthering research or education relevant activities.

Acceptable Travel

Travel to meetings of clinical specialty societies, research societies, national and international general clinical groups (e.g. AMA, WHO), the recognized or stated primary goals of which are to further medical knowledge, research, public health and/or education is acceptable when the proposed travel has a demonstrable research or education relevance.

Approval Authority

Approval of proposed corporate travel funding requests is the responsibility of the Executive Director, upon consultation with the Education Subcommittee when using educational funds, with final authority for interpretation residing with the President or the Board of Directors. Exceptions to stated policy may be made only by the Board of Directors.

Relevance of Travel

It is the responsibility of the traveler to submit adequate material to justify a primary research or education purpose that is directly related to the investigator’s field of expertise.

Advances

No cash advances or reimbursements of transportation tickets will be made prior to the date of the actual travel. The Corporation has made an arrangement with a travel agent for booking of airline tickets, to be paid on the corporate credit card, upon submission of Travel Advance Request form. It is the responsibility of the traveler to make specific arrangements with the travel agent, after the agent has been given authority to make these arrangements by SCIRE Administration. Sufficient time must be allowed to take advantage of “advance ticketing prices” to reduce the expense of the airfare. In case of paper tickets, they will be sent to SCIRE and released to the traveler one week prior to the date of travel. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Executive Director. Meeting registration fees may be requested in advance of the conference. Corporate checks or credit card charge for such registration will be paid to the organization sponsoring the meeting, not the individual traveler. The conference site hotel room, or approved alternate, can be reserved using the corporate credit card. Upon departure the traveler is responsible for any incidental charges. This must be arranged in advance with the SCIRE Purchasing Agent.

Traveler’s Responsibility to Obtain Travel Approval

The Principal Investigator whose funds are to be expended for travel must request authorization to spend those funds in advance from either the Executive Director or the accounting department.

Traveler’s Responsibility for Excess Expenses

The traveler is responsible for excess costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience; e.g. cost of accommodations in excess of conference schedule; luxury accommodations and services unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official business. In no case, will SCIRE pay for business class or first class airfare.

Foreign Travel

Payment of expenses for foreign travel is allowed, provided the traveler is on authorized absence. Foreign travel cannot be paid if the traveler stays for vacation more than two-thirds (2/3) of the total trip. The costs will be prorated up to 2/3. All other foreign travel restrictions applicable to VA employees will be applicable to SCIRE employees. VA employees can only take authorized absence for 3 foreign trips per year.

Reimbursement Documentation and Time Limits

Reimbursement will be issued only upon submission of original receipts and documentation. In case of foreign travel, submit a copy of the credit card bill showing conversion rate to US dollars for any expenses to be reimbursed.

Reimbursement will be made only for the travel days and days on official business. In no case will SCIRE reimburse for any expenses while on annual leave or vacation days.

Reimbursement for completed travel should be requested within 60 days. Requests submitted more than 60 days after the expense is incurred may be denied or may require additional justification and approval before reimbursement can be made. In no case, may reimbursement be made for expenses that are more than 6 months old.

Travel Request Reimbursement

The traveler must complete and submit a SCIRE Travel Reimbursement Form along with the following documents for approval, to the Principal Investigator whose funds will be used:

Airline passenger receipt

Hotel receipt

Ground transportation

Copy of registration form or letter of invitation

Copy of meeting brochure or name tag to confirm attendance

Per diem charge (list days covered) – we do not reimburse for actual meal expenses. The Principal Investigator has the authority to honor SCIRE’s current per diem rate or may set a “not to exceed” limit up to the current per diem rate.

Travel Request for a VA Employee

The traveler must complete and submit a SCIRE Travel Reimbursement Form along with the following documents for approval:

Documentation listed above, plus the following:

An approved “Request for Approval of Acceptance of Gifts or Donations.” (form 10-0101B)

The Principal Investigator whose funds will be used must sign the Travel Reimbursement form to approve the expenses.

Reasonableness of Travel Costs

SCIRE shall reimburse travelers only for those business-related costs that are reasonably incurred.

  1. Suites and other upgraded rooms at hotels shall not be allowed; Travelers should stay in standardized rooms.
  2. When utilizing rental cars, travelers should rent midsize or smaller vehicles; Share rental cars and taxis whenever possible.
  3. Business-related long-distance telephone calls while away on business travel are permitted, but should be kept to a minimum; Expense reports must explain long-distance charges.
  4. Whenever possible, travelers should utilize long-distance calling cards when placing calls while away on travel; Avoid using the hotel’s long-distance service if possible.
  5. Reasonable tips for baggage handling and taxi service shall be reimbursed; No receipts are required.
  6. Business-related usage of a hotel-based or external business center (i.e. computer usage, internet access, photocopying, etc) shall be reimbursed with explanation on expense reports.

Special Rules Pertaining to Air Travel

The following additional rules apply to air travel:

  1. Air travel must be coach or economy class; Business class or first class air travel is not permitted under any circumstances.
  2. Membership in airline flight clubs is not reimbursable.
  3. Cost of flight insurance is not reimbursable.
  4. SCIRE will not provide cash reimbursement for tickets using personal miles.
  5. When returning on a Sunday or departing on a Saturday in order to obtain a cost savings in airfare due to the Saturday night stay over, travelers should provide a total cost comparison (showing that the airfare plus the extra night lodging is less costly than airfare without the Saturday night stay over)
  6. Cost of upgrade certificates is not reimbursable.
  7. Cost of canceling and rebooking flights is not reimbursable, unless it can be shown that it was necessary or required for legitimate business reasons (such as changed meeting dates, etc)
  8. Travelers must identify and pay for all personal flights, even if such flights are incorporated into the flight schedule that serves business purpose (i.e. SCIRE will not reimburse for the personal leg of the trip).
  9. Persons traveling on SCIRE funds cannot use government rate airfares.
  10. If the traveler desires to travel by car, rather than by air, the maximum reimbursement will be equal to the negotiated government airfare available for the city pairs.
  11. Individuals may earn and keep frequent flyer miles that are earned when they travel.

Spouse/Partner Travel

It is the policy of SCIRE not to reimburse anyone (incl employee or Board member) for separate travel costs (airfare, etc) associated with his/her spouse. The cost of a shared room should be allocated between employee/director and spouse/partner in cases of higher rates for shared room versus single rate. The employee will be reimbursed for the single rate, if applicable.

Non-reimbursable Expenditures

The reimbursement of funds will be guided by the principle that no expenditure will be reimbursed that could be considered to be of personal benefit (income) to the investigator involved or represent a conflict of interest or apparent conflict of interest.

  1. No payment for state licensing fees can be made.
  2. No supplies or equipment not located on site or at an R&D Committee approved off-site (i.e. personal computers), computer supplies, paper, folders, etc.
  3. No payments will be reimbursed for maintenance or repairs of non-SCIRE owned equipment.

Business Meetings

Reimbursement will be made for food and non-alcoholic beverages upon completion of Reimbursement for Business Meeting form. Under no circumstances may alcoholic beverages be reimbursed. The following is required for reimbursement:

  1. A list of attendees with academic or job title
  2. The topic(s) of conversation (how it relates to research or education)
  3. Itemized bill from restaurant (if unable to provide, a signed statement that “reimbursement is not being requested for alcoholic beverages”)
  4. Charge card receipt or cash receipt for cost of meals
  5. Reimbursement will be for “reasonable costs”, not to exceed $8 for breakfast, $14 for lunch, $32 for dinner, including non-alcoholic beverage.
  6. The meal should be appropriate to the occasion and may not be considered “lavish.” Although no precise definition of “lavish” is possible, it is intended that any meal or entertainment does not meet acceptable standards if it is judged above the standard of living of the recipients.
  7. In special instances, for exemplary participants (dean of medical college, internationally known researcher, etc) a waiver for the above amounts may be requested from the Executive Director, up to $50 per person. If the cost is greater than $50, the Board must approve the amount of reimbursement.

Subscriptions and Memberships

Expenditures for continued education, including scientific books, conferences and registration fees, scientific society memberships, etc. specifically relating to a research activity may be requested by submitting the appropriate paperwork to SCIRE. Subscriptions or professional association dues, with the exclusion of license fees, may be paid from appropriate research or investigator general funds upon approval by the Executive Director. Memberships may be paid if, by virtue of membership, a members-only journal is received. Optional contributions to the scientific society cannot be reimbursed.

Secondary Reimbursements

PI’s should not pay for employee expenses directly or reimburse employees for expenses and then request reimbursement from SCIRE. An exception may be granted in special circumstances, provided prior authorization has been obtained from the Executive Director.

Petty Cash Accounts

In certain clinical trials, it is preferable to pay minimal sums to patients for reimbursement for travel expenses. A request for a petty cash check must be made to SCIRE administration. A log sheet is required to record all disbursements and cash on hand. Sufficient care must be taken to provide security to cash on hand. Detailed information as to location of cash such as building, office number, location within the office (i.e. locked desk drawer, locked file cabinet) shall be provided. Insurance will be handled through SCIRE’s Property Insurance Policy and will be paid for out of SCIRE’s administrative funds.

Petty Cash Checking Account

In the case of patients who do not have personal checking or saving account, it is preferable to use the Desert Pacific Credit Union located on-site for distribution of minimal sums to patients for reimbursement for travel expenses rather than cash. An arrangement has been made with the credit union to cash checks with minimal identification. Sufficient care should be taken to provide security to the checkbook. All checks issued are required to be entered into the checkbook register and provided to SCIRE and/or the Principal Investigator upon demand.   The Investigator, or designated Clinical Coordinator, is responsible for informing SCIRE when a deposit is needed to replenish the account. Additionally, notice must be given to SCIRE purchasing officer when a new supply of checks is needed. The monthly statement will be sent directly to SCIRE and the SCIRE accounting department will do a monthly reconciliation on the account.

Non-reimbursable Expenditures

The reimbursement of funds will be guided by the principle that no expenditure will be reimbursed that could be considered to be of personal benefit (income) to the investigator involved or represent a conflict of interest or apparent conflict of interest.

1. No payment for state licensing fees can be made.

2. No supplies or equipment not located on site or at an R&D Committee approved off-site (i.e. personal computers), computer supplies, paper, folders, etc.

3. No payments will be reimbursed for maintenance or repairs of non-SCLRE owned equipment.