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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Acounts Payable and Travel — Frequently Asked Questions

Hospitality

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General Information

Who is expected to follow the Hospitality Policy?

The policy applies to all hospitality expenses incurred by the University, the Foundation, The Forty Niner Shops and Associated Students Inc. The Auxiliaries and departments may choose to implement more restrictive policies.

What events are not considered hospitality?

Many events and activities are not considered to be true business hospitality. Generally, if there is no guest-host relationship and/or the event is not hosted by the University or one of its representatives.

Such events include officially recognized events hosted or sponsored by the University of Foundation where the majority of the participants are expected to be from outside the University community (eg. conferences, forums, tournaments, auto shows, etc.); third party events not hosted by the University or Foundation but in which employee attendance is considered appropriate (eg. award banquets, recognition dinners, etc); and integral grant expenditures (eg. a training grant or food bank).

Supply related items such as snack foods for the childcare center, food for farm or lab animals, items used in research or beverages for the President’s visitors are not considered hospitality expenses.

What is the allowable per-person maximum for hospitality?
Hospitality Rates
Meal type Maximum per person 2007 Maximum per person (effective Jan. 1, 2016)
Breakfast $23 $30
Lunch $34 $40
Dinner $58 $75
Light Refreshment* $15 $20
Hors d'oeuveres** na $30

*Light Refreshments - Light snack, cookies and punch/coffee/tea.

**Hors d'oeuvres - Hot or cold appetizers in lieu of dinner meal service.

These amounts include food, beverages, tax and service (e.g. tips).

When a hospitality expense exceeds the per-person maximum provided in the chart above, the hospitality is considered exceptional. Exceptions require a written justification for the overage and the approval from a Vice President, the Director of Athletics, or the Auxiliaries Executive Officer/General Manager. This authority may not be delegated any further.

Note: The fact that actual costs exceed the authorized rates is not, in itself, adequate justification for an exception request for overages. The justification must include why adherence to policy was unavoidable and necessary to achieve a University business purpose.

How is the per person maximum calculated?

The person maximum is calculated by dividing the total amount charged for food, beverage, tax, gratuity and service charge by the total number of actual attendees. If food is being ordered, the estimated number of attendees should be used when choosing the appropriate menu items.

Who can approve standard hospitality?

Approvals for hospitality related expenses follow the campus delegation of signature authority guideline

Who cannot approve hospitality expenses?

In order to ensure that the approval of hospitality is entirely independent, individuals with delegated approval authority shall neither approve their own expenses nor those expenses of a person to whom they directly report. The approving authority is the next highest level.

Is an original receipt required? What if the receipt is unavailable?

Two things are required of a receipt to substantiate a hospitality expense: (1) demonstration of cost – what was purchased and (2) proof of payment. The host is required to provide receipts that food, beverage, tax, service and gratuity charges.

For an amount $50 or more, an original itemized receipt is required. A credit card receipt alone is not sufficient. If an original receipt is unavailable, provide a photocopy of the receipt.

If a copy is provided, complete a Request for Exception to Policy and include an explanation that the receipt is lost or unavailable and the reason. If using CSU Operating funds, you must also indicate if alcoholic beverages were purchased.

Requests for Exceptions may only be approved by the Vice Presidents, the Director of Athletics, and the Auxiliaries Executive Officer/General Manager. This authority may not be delegated any further.

Do I need a guest list…always?

A guest list is required including participant names, their titles, and affiliation to the University. For a large function with 100 or more participants, it may not be feasible to provide a guest list so a copy of the flyer, invitation or other announcement may be provided in lieu of a guest list. Examples of large events are guest lecture receptions, Kaleidoscope, parent or student orientation weekends, graduation receptions, department open houses, etc.

Will the University reimburse or pay hospitality expenses for a spouse or significant other?

Hospitality expenses of a spouse or significant other of the guest or the official host may be reimbursed as an exception to policy provided the attendance of that person serves a bona fide University business purpose. Participation in official University functions that require the attendance of a spouse or domestic partner may be considered a bona fide business purpose. Following are examples of events that may require the attendance of a spouse or significant other.

Recruitment: At some recruitment functions it is customary for the spouse of a host or guest to be present. On such occasions, you can reimburse or pay for the hospitality expense related to the spouse or significant other. You must explain the business related purpose for such attendance and acquire exceptional approval on the Request for Payment/Reimbursement of Hospitality Expense form.

Fund raising: A spouse's participation is sometimes integral to the success of fund-raising events. On such occasions, you can reimburse or pay for the hospitality expense related to the spouse or significant other. You must explain the business related purpose for such attendance and acquire exceptional approval on the Request for Payment/Reimbursement of Hospitality Expense form.

University functions: Spouses can act as CSULB representatives at official functions, such as hosting receptions for new students or faculty. On such occasions, you can reimburse or pay for the hospitality expense related to the spouse or significant other so long as the guests are official and the hospitality relates directly to CSULB business. You must explain the business related purpose for such attendance and acquire exceptional approval on the Request for Payment/Reimbursement of Hospitality Expense form.

In the context of hospitality, a significant other is the non-married partner of a CSULB staff or faculty member. This term applies to both same-sex and different-sex couples.

Will the University pay or reimburse hospitality expenses that include alcohol?

Enterprise funds may be used to pay for or reimburse the cost of alcohol as long as there are no restrictions on the funding source disallowing the expense.

The CSU Operating Fund may not be used to pay for or reimburse these types of events.

Will the University pay or reimburse for a “working lunch”?

The cost of a working lunch, either on or off campus, may be paid for or reimbursed by the University if it is included as part of a scheduled meeting that takes place over an extended period of time or could not be held during normal business hours.

Reimbursement or payment will not be allowed when two or more persons from the same work location choose to go to lunch together to continue their business as an incidental part of the meal or when the meeting could have been held during normal business hours.

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Funding

What are allowable funding sources for hospitality?

Official hospitality expenses may be paid from various University funding sources. Funds include CSU Operating Fund (GF001) and Reimbursed Activities (RA001). Other eligible funding sources for use with Hospitality are Housing, Parking, Miscellaneous Trust, CCPE Trust funds and funds maintained by the Auxiliary organizations.

If Federal funds are to be charged, directly or indirectly, campus procedures and controls must be in place to ensure that the requirements of OMB Circular A-21 Cost Principles for Educational Institutions are met.

In the event of a conflict between the terms of the fund (eg. funding source) and University policy, the stricter of the two policies shall apply.

What funding sources are not allowed for hospitality?

Funds not listed as allowable funds are excluded from use with Hospitality expenses.

What are allowable hospitality expenses and occasions using the CSU Operating Fund – GF001?

Hospitality is considered allowable when there is a guest-host relationship, the purpose is official business hospitality, and the nature and cost of the event is within the limits of the hospitality guidelines.

Examples of allowable situations using CSU Operating funds are: hospitality to official guests; meetings of a learned society or organization; meetings of an administrative nature; student oriented meetings; prospective university donors and donor cultivation; receptions held in connection with conferences, fundraising events, employee recognition, length of service awards, retirements; and fee supported functions such as commencement receptions, CCPE self supported classes and other non-credit programs.

What are allowable hospitality expenses and occasions using Enterprise Funds?

Hospitality is considered allowable when there is a guest-host relationship, the purpose is official business hospitality, and the nature and cost of the event is within the limits of the hospitality guidelines and are not restricted by the fund.

Examples of allowable situations using Enterprise Funds are: payment/reimbursement for alcoholic beverages; meetings attended only by employees of the same work location; faculty/staff picnics or holiday gatherings; social events such as employee birthdays, anniversaries, showers, farewells (other than retirement); and non-fee supported events such as departmental commencement receptions.

What types of hospitality expenses are not allowable in any fund?

Reimbursement or payment of an expense that will be considered taxable income to an employee and that are not in compliance with IRS regulations. Examples are:

  • Payment or reimbursement of expenses that are not allowed by University policy
  • Expenses that are lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
  • The entertainment (hospitality) activity is not directly related to the employee's job
  • The official host or another University employee is not present when the activity takes place
  • The expense is not substantiated with appropriate supporting documentation,
  • Business meals with faculty, staff, or other colleagues that are frequent (eg. that occur on a regular or routine basis) and are reciprocal
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Definitions

What is Hospitality?

At CSULB, "hospitality" is the provision of meals (eg. catered, restaurant, grocery purchase) or light refreshments (eg. beverages, hours d’oeuvres, pastries, cookies, etc.) for a bona fide CSULB business purpose. Hospitality usually involves a guest-host relationship in which a designated host invites an official guest or guests to attend an event. There should be no personal benefit to the person acting as host or to other employees.

Who can be an Official Host?

A CSULB employee representing the University or Foundation who hosts, chairs or sponsors a meeting, conference, reception or event. The official host is not required to be present at the function.

The official host may not be a department – it must be an individual.

Who can be considered an Official Guest?

A person invited by an official host to attend a University meeting, conference, reception or event. Official Guests may include but are not limited to recruitment candidates, donors, visitors from other colleges and universities, members of the community and employees from another work location.

What is a Business Expense?

A business expense is one that has an appropriate business purpose and where a clear University-related objective is demonstrated instead of a personal or social one.

What is the definition of a “work location”?

A work location is where the major portion of an employee’s working time is spent or where an employee returns during normal business hours upon completion of special assignments.

The CSULB campus and all of its Auxiliaries are considered to be the same work location.

What is a team building or employee morale-boosting event?

Enterprise funds may be used to pay for or reimburse the cost of meals or light refreshments for team building or employee morale-boosting events as long as there are no restrictions on the funding source disallowing the expense.

Faculty/staff picnics or holiday gatherings serve the business purpose of team building events.

Social events such as employee birthdays, anniversaries, showers, farewell gatherings (except retirement), etc may be considered employee moral boosting occasions. Such events may include employees and spouses, significant others or special guests.

The approving authority should evaluate these events in terms of cost, benefit, availability of funds, and alternatives that would be equally effective in accomplishing desired business objectives.

The CSU Operating Fund may not be used to pay for or reimburse these types of events.

What is considered a “working lunch”?

A “working lunch” is when the meal is an integral part of an administrative meeting, not a matter of personal convenience. Such a lunch may be held on or off campus and should take place over an extended period of time. The agenda for the meeting should indicate no break for lunch and work will continue during the meal.

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Exceptions

What is Exceptional Hospitality?

Hospitality is considered exceptional when expenses exceed the per-person maximum for the event; expenses for a spouse or significant other are included and a business purpose is demonstrated; the event is not hosted by the University or Foundation; there is missing appropriate documentation; and any other type of hospitality expense that is not specifically included in the hospitality policy.

Approval for exceptions to the hospitality policy has been delegated to Level 2 Administrators, the Vice Presidents and the Director of Athletics. This authority may not be delegated any further.