Section: Travel Index: F-5
Subject: Travel Arrangements
It is the policy of the University for all departments to make their own employee travel arrangements while striving to minimize costs and maximize the travel benefit to the University. All applicable laws and University of Houston System (UHS) policies and procedures will be adhered to. All travel will comply with UHS Policy 03.A.03, Business Travel. All travel paid or reimbursed with state-appropriated funds must comply with the requirements of Textravel and the State Travel Management Program (STMP). Textravel will be applicable for all locally funded travel situations that are not specifically covered in UHV policies and procedures. It is also the policy of the University to utilize the designated state-contracted travel agency for employee travel planning, reservations, ticketing, and billing. Travel cards which are billed directly to the University may be issued to departments that request them.
Contracted Travel Vendor
For this document, an airline, automobile rental agency, charge card, hotel/motel or travel agency with which the State has contracted to provide services.
Cost Center Manager
The department manager that has budget authority for a department and is the authorized approver for transactions for cost centers within that department; see Sources with Approvers and Alternative Approvers.
Designated State-Contracted Travel Agency
Travel agency under contract with the State of Texas designated by the University to provide travel services to University employees, students and others traveling on University business.
Department Travel Card
Charge card contracted by the State of Texas that may be used to purchase airfare, lodging and justified rental car expenses for authorized University travel. Department travel cards are issued in the name of the department, which maintains possession of the card, and are billed to the University.
Department Travel Coordinator
Each department shall assign employee travel arrangements, including airfare, lodging and rental car reservations, to a department travel coordinator. The department travel coordinator will also be the main contact person between the department and travel-related staff in the Finance Department.
Includes all travel by University employees and prospective employees to or from all countries outside Canada, Mexico, the United States and U.S. territories and possessions.
Individual Travel Card
Charge card contracted by the State of Texas that may be used to purchase airfare, lodging, transportation, and other travel-related expenses for authorized University travel. Individual travel cards are only issued to limited categories of University employees based on need as approved by the Vice President for Administration and Finance. They are issued in the name of the employee, who maintains possession of the card, and are billed to the University.
Funds collected at the University for goods or services, provided by non-state grants or contracts, or provided by donors, as opposed to funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature in the General Appropriations Act.
A commercial lodging establishment such as a motel, hotel, inn, apartment, house or similar establishment that provides lodging to the public for pay.
State Appropriated Funds
Funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature in the General Appropriations Act, whether held inside or outside the State Treasury. These funds include general revenue, special line items, Higher Education Assistance Funds (HEAF), and other funds designated as “state” funds.
Travel Request Form
The Travel Request Form is used to authorize and request official University travel in advance of the trip. Not required for non-overnight mileage, parking, tolls, or other transportation expenses.
Travel Specialist/Travel Analyst
The Finance Department employees who review and approve travel related vouchers, answer travel related questions and serve as the campus Travel Card administrators.
An individual who voluntarily and without compensation provides recognition or support to the University in contribution to the University’s mission. This person may be a donor, potential donor, volunteer, or community, government, University or corporate official. It does not include current faculty, staff, or students of the University or persons paid an honorarium or a fee for contracted services.
- Advanced Approval of Travel
All overnight travel that is related to University business, programs, or activities, whether paid by the University or not, must be approved in advance (prior to departure and before commitment of University funds) by all of the required approvers on a Travel Request Form for the following categories of travelers:
- Prospective employees; see additional requirements and procedures at UHV Policy F-7, Prospective State Employee.
- Students on official student business (not allowed with state funds); see additional requirements and procedures at UHV Policy F-3, Student Travel.
- University guests (not allowed with state appropriated funds)
Additional requirements and procedures apply to foreign travel; see UHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel.
For information on conference registration fees, see UHV Policy F-6, Conference Registration Fees.
The Travel Request Form must be approved by the traveler’s supervisor, the cost center manager for the funds being used, the Research Administrator if grant funds are used, the appropriate Vice President if out of state travel, and the President for foreign travel as defined in UHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel.
After the proper approvals are obtained, a unique Travel Request number must be assigned by the department. Travel Request numbers must begin with the three character source code used in PeopleSoft for the department; see Sources with Approvers and Alternative Approvers. Signed and numbered Travel Request Forms must be retained and attached as supporting documentation for all related travel expense vouchers, travel card payments or ProCard payments.
Non-overnight travel including reimbursement for mileage, parking, tolls, or other transportation expenses does not require advanced approval on a Travel Request Form.
Travelers who make repeated trips to the same destination for the same purpose with an overnight stay may submit a Blanket Travel Request form for the entire fiscal year (9/1 through 8/31) or any other time period within a given fiscal year; see UHV Blanket Travel Request procedures.
- Travel to Washington D.C. Using State-Appropriated Funds
In addition to obtaining advance approval on the Travel Request Form, when travel to Washington D.C. or the surrounding area will be paid in part or in whole from state appropriated funds, the Office of State-Federal Relations, a State of Texas agency, must be notified no later than seven calendar days prior to the beginning of travel. The responsible unit must complete the Report of State Agency Travel to Washington D.C. at the following Internet address: http://www.osfr.state.tx.us. When the information has been submitted online, a confirmation page will be created, which must be attached to the Travel Request Form before it is approved. If notification is not given within seven days of departure, an explanation letter must be faxed to the Office of State-Federal Relations; refer to fax number on the form at the above website. This letter must also be attached to the Travel Request Form before it is approved.
- Travel Arrangements
All travel arrangements should be made to minimize travel costs, while fulfilling the objective of the University travel.
Airfare must be purchased at the lowest price available (i.e. coach class). No-cost upgrades to business class or first class airfare are acceptable, as long as the airfare receipt provided by the airline or travel agency clearly indicates that there is no additional cost for the upgrade. Additional costs for early check in or seat assignment are not allowed.
When purchasing a “package deal” that includes airfare and lodging, an itemization of each expense must be obtained.
Mileage Versus AirfareReimbursements for mileage must not exceed the cost of equivalent air coach fare or other reasonable available transportation. Necessary extra costs for food or lodging while en route are not reimbursable if the traveler is reimbursed on a mileage basis in preference to air travel or other public transportation.
Mileage, Rental Car and Public Transportation
- Designated Headquarters To/From Duty Point
Travel from the designated headquarters to/from duty point by private auto is reimbursable at the Texas State Automobile Mileage Rate per mile in effect at the time of travel. Travelers who choose to rent a car for travel from their designated headquarters may do so, but must pay out of pocket for the rental and fuel, and will still be reimbursed based on mileage.
Airport To/From Duty Point
For travel from an airport in a destination city to/from a hotel, conference or other business duty point, travelers may be reimbursed at the Texas State Automobile Mileage Rate in effect at the time of travel or may be reimbursed for actual expenses for the most cost effective method of travel, such as taxi fares or limo service (including reasonable tips), shuttles or other public transportation. Only the cost of necessary business travel should be considered in determining the most cost effective method. Car rental and fuel for travel to/from business duty points from an airport in a destination city may be reimbursed to the traveler only if it is documented that this is the most cost effective method of transportation.
- Designated Headquarters To/From Duty Point
When making lodging arrangements, travelers are encouraged to use Texas State-Contracted Hotels in the interest of economy; however, this is only required if state appropriated funds are used. Travelers using local funds are expected to obtain reasonable rates, where reasonable is determined prior to travel at the cost center manager’s discretion.
The University is exempt from the payment of the state portion of hotel occupancy tax when traveling on official University business in Texas. Therefore, travelers should complete and submit to lodging establishments a Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate and confirm that these taxes are not assessed on their bill.
See UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement of Travel, for information on other miscellaneous expenses associated with lodging that are reimbursable.
- Use of Contracted Travel Vendors
To provide timely and efficient travel services and generate cost savings to state agencies, the State of Texas contracts with travel vendors for the following services:
- Rental cars
- Travel agencies
- Travel charge card
The designated state-contracted travel agency that honors state contracted airfare rates provides authorized travelers with group and individual passenger travel services, included but not limited to planning, reservations and ticketing for commercial air carriers and air service. Use of the designated state-contracted travel agency allows official University trips to be billed directly to a University travel card. Direct billing by travel vendors is not allowed.
Information on the current University’s designated state-contracted travel agency can be found at the Designated State-Contracted Travel Agency webpage. Names and rates of current state-contracted travel vendors for airfare, lodging, and rental cars are available on the STMP website.
- State-Appropriated Funds
Official University travel paid or reimbursed from state-appropriated funds must use state contracted vendors and rates for the services listed above. The designated state-contracted travel agency and the University travel card must be used to purchase airfare.
- Local Funds
Official University travel paid or reimbursed from local funds is generally (see exceptions below) not required to utilize state contracted vendors; however, contracted vendors are available and may be used for the services listed above if the traveler determines it is in the University’s best interest.
The designated state-contracted travel agency must be used if a travel agency is used. The designated state-contracted travel agency is generally required to be used if a University travel card is used to purchase airfare; however, purchase of airfare using a University travel card through another vendor is allowed if an actual comparative quote from the designated travel agency is attached as documentation that the other vendor is more cost effective. If the traveler pays out of pocket and then seeks reimbursement for airfare, they are not required to use the designated state-contracted travel agency or state contracted vendors.
- Combining Business and Personal Travel
Travelers who combine business and personal travel must adhere to requirements as specified in UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement of Travel.
Questions concerning travel arrangements should be directed to the Travel Specialist, Travel Analyst or Accounting Services Coordinator in the Finance Department.
- UHS AM 03.A.03, Business Travel
- State Travel Management Program (STMP)
- Sources with Alternate Approvers
- General Appropriations Act
- Travel Request
- UHV Policy F-7, Prospective State Employee
- UHV Policy F-3, Student Travel
- UHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel
- UHV Policy F-6, Conference Registration Fees
- UHV Blanket Travel Request
- Texas State Automobile Mileage Rate
- Texas State-Contracted Hotels
- Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate
- UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement of Travel
- Designated State-Contracted Travel Agency webpage
- UHV Finance Travel webpage
- UHV Travel Guide
- UHV State Funded Travel Guide
Raymond V. Morgan, Jr. Ph.D
Next review date: October, 2020
Origination: Finance Department