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The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Expenditures must be consistent with the university’s purchasing policies and guidelines as well as the guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to business and travel expense policies.

This article provides helpful guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Business Expense Team receives about expense reimbursement policies and processes. For common questions related to travel, visit Stanford Travel Updates and Hot Topics.

For general help with business expense and reimbursement questions, contact the Financial Support Center

For questions about purchasing and contracts, visit Purchasing and Contracts Updates and Hot Topics. The page provides guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Purchasing and Contracts Team receives about purchasing policies and processes.

Added June 2024

Effective immediately, University IT (UIT) has removed restrictions on purchasing computing hardware with a Purchasing Card (PCard), as well as through personal reimbursement (Expense Request). UIT’s preferred purchasing recommendations for hardware (desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and standard accessories) remain the same. However, now there are no more restrictions on using less preferred purchasing methods, such as a PCard, to purchase hardware.

These restrictions have been removed as the risks are now mitigated through alternative strategies. For example, senior leadership currently receive high risk monitoring reports that provide visibility into hardware purchases within their schools and units. Additionally, Stanford University is managing the risk associated with hardware purchases through several measures. Minimum Security Standards for endpoints are designed to mitigate many of the risks associated with hardware purchases. Device enrollment, verifiable encryption, and high-risk data handling requirements are designed to ensure that Stanford University maintains a high standard of data security and compliance for all hardware used within its network.

As with the recent software purchasing guidance update, this change better balances risk reduction and administrative efficiency.

For guidance on purchasing common types of goods for university use, visit Fingate’s Purchase Goods page, which describes best practices for purchasing hardware, home office equipment, lab supplies, and more. Visit the Purchase Services page for guidance on purchasing common types of services, including cloud computing, internet services and software.

Added April 2024

As part of ongoing Procurement Efficiencies enhancements, on May 6 the Business Expense team is launching another set of enhancements to help reduce rejections and returns of Expense Reports (ERs) and Non-PO Payments (PRs) in the Expense Requests System (ERS) by central auditors. These changes include the following:

Functionality to allow auditors to send a notification to the preparer and approver when a transaction needs guidance but can still be approved. Currently, if there is a minor issue with a transaction, the auditor adds a comment and returns or rejects the transaction. The preparer must respond to the comment and resubmit the transaction. Effective May 6, if there is a minor issue with a transaction, the auditor may approve the transaction and add a note about the issue. The notification email, which is sent automatically and cannot be turned off,  is sent to both the preparer and the approver so they both know what to improve in future transactions. This change decreases administrative burden for campus users by allowing the auditor to provide feedback while still approving a transaction.

The ability for an auditor to choose multiple rejection reasons when a transaction is rejected or returned. Currently, almost one-third of rejected or returned transactions have multiple reasons they were returned by an auditor. Starting May 6, auditors may choose multiple rejection reasons (instead of just one) when returning or rejecting a transaction. The notification from the auditor will also be reformatted and revised slightly to make it easier to read. Select the image below for an example of the updated notification.

 

This change has multiple benefits:

  • It reduces the number of resubmitted transactions by clearly listing all needed corrections, so preparers can respond to the transaction a single time.
  • Improved formatting will allow preparers to more quickly and easily understand what changes to an expense request are necessary.

Allowing multiple rejection reasons also helps FMS better understand why transactions are rejected and provide additional training or support as needed.

 

Added March 2024

The Lodging Policy page was recently updated with guidance on finding, booking, and being reimbursed for home-share lodging (such as Airbnb or Vrbo). Although not encouraged, home shares available through home-sharing companies are an allowed option for travelers and reimbursable if they follow the hotel and lodging rate maximums and university policies.

This new home-sharing section includes guidance on:

  • Finding an economical home share
  • Home share contracts
  • Calculating the total cost of a home share to stay within the lodging rate maximum
  • Room sharing

To learn more, visit the Lodging Policy page.

Added February 2024

On February 26, 2024, the Business Expense team will roll out improvements to the rejection and return reasons that central auditors use for all Expense Request transactions in the Expense Requests System (ERS). The changes include:

  • Updates and consolidations of current rejection and return reasons to better clarify why a transaction is rejected or returned and how preparers can resolve the problem
  • The addition of a number of new clear and actionable rejection and return reasons
  • The retirement of several outdated rejection and return reasons

The changes help preparers and approvers to understand auditors’ instructions, and also provide more accurate end user reporting in OBI to help schools and units understand where more training may be needed.

Added January 2024

The Digital Payments payment method, which was inaccessible from December 8, 2023 through January 15, 2024 while transitioning to an updated J.P. Morgan payment platform, is available for use again. The updated payment platform has a redesigned process for Stanford visitors to accept and receive payment. The interface to request Digital Payments in the Expense Requests System has not changed.

To support this change, the Digital Payments page on Fingate was revised to include an updated description of the Digital Payments reimbursement process for preparers and visitors. The Digital Payments page also links to a new instructional page for Stanford visitors, How to Register and Accept a Digital Payment, that can be shared with visitors.

Added December 2023

Mileage reimbursement rates  for 2024 are now available on Fingate and updated in Oracle. For 2024, the Internal Revenue Service increased the rate 1.5 cents per mile to $0.67 for using a private automobile for business purposes, and decreased the rate 1 cent per mile to $0.21 for using a private automobile for moving expenses.

These rates are effective as of January 1, 2024. For reference, the rates for 2023 are also included on the Fingate Resource page.

Added November 2023

On November 13, there will be several updates to the Credit Card Profiles Change Request tool in Oracle Financials to support processes such as exception requests, attaching documents, managing transaction limits, and reactivating suspended cards. They include:

  • The expansion of the Exception Request section to include a PCard non-permissible exception request, when an urgent need arises. This change allows for faster turnaround time and more complete information to support the request.
  • The ability to upload/attach documents to substantiate or support the change request or exception request being submitted.
  • The option to permanently lower the per-transaction limit (for PCards only), if necessary, to minimize risk on a PCard.
  • A new card reactivation and attestation process to reinstate a suspended card.

Added November 2023/Updated May 2024

In order to support departments in purchasing software in a manner that safeguards the university and supports financial stewardship, FMS and University IT (UIT) have made recent updates to guidance and associated processes. These updates are documented in Topic Overview: Purchase Services and include the following changes:

To ensure alignment with UIT security protocols, before purchasing any software, including online software purchases with an accompanying “click-through agreement,” schools and units must consult University Information Technology's (UIT) Software at Stanford page. This resource can be used to search for specific software and how to obtain it. After searching through this directory of Software, purchasers can consult the Software Purchase Guide for next steps.

Learn more about the change on the University IT website.

Added October 2023

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) sets domestic per diem rates, effective Oct. 1 each year. The new per diem rates (searchable by city, state, or zip code) are now published; visit Domestic Per Diem Rates to access the rates.

For trips that took place prior to October 1, the previous rates can be accessed still by selecting “2023” from the drop down menu.

For more information on reimbursement methods (such as per diem vs. actuals), see Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies.

Added August 2023

Purchasing Card (PCard) and Travel Card (TCard) cardholders who contact JPMorgan Chase to activate or ask questions about their card must provide different identifying information starting September 1, 2023.

When contacting JPMorgan Chase, the cardholder must provide the last four digits of their Stanford employee ID, rather than the last four digits of their Social Security Number (SSN), and their date of birth to verify their identity.

This change helps cardholders reduce the use of their SSNs for identification.

The employee ID number, also called the University ID, is listed on the employee ID card, on the electronic employee ID in the Stanford Mobile app, and available on Axess in the My Axess Profile section.

Added July 2023

In an ongoing effort to improve and streamline the Stanford Purchasing Card (PCard) experience, and ensure compliance with purchasing practices and policies, several enhancements to the Purchasing Card module within Oracle Financials launched on July 17. They include:

  • Updated Business Purpose to ensure all components of a Business Purpose are included
  • Updated Receipt missing? and Are you sending backup documents? to modify how verifiers respond to these questions
  • Updated Was correct sales tax paid? to include additional tax locations and appropriate instructions
  • New drop-down menu in Does this purchase include a personal expense? to provide more details and instructions
  • New Populate Approvers button adds approvers automatically

Additionally, to continually improve and support purchasing practices and policies that are compliant, responsible and appropriate, the suspension process for improper use will be updated in November.

Learn more about these changes in the Fingate Announcement PCard Module Enhancements and Suspension Process Changes.

Added July 2023

The visitor travel policy letter template, which explains the university’s travel booking and reimbursement policies for Stanford visitors, has been updated and clarified as of June 30, 2023 to align with current travel policy. 

The updated template includes expanded instructions and information for travel arrangers who work with visitors, including links to related resources and tax considerations for visitor travel reimbursements and payments.

The letter template is designed to be downloaded, customized as needed by the department, and shared with visitors to help them to book and be reimbursed for travel. The letter has been updated to align with business and travel expense policies that are currently published on Fingate. The updated sections cover:

  • Which travel receipts visitors need to provide (Documentation Guidelines section)
  • Type of transportation to choose, based on the distance traveled (Types of Transportation section)
  • Class of airfare and route that is reimbursable (Airfare section)
  • Policy for booking transportation to and from airports and rental cars (Ground Transportation section)
  • Reimbursement policy for travel meals (Meals section)
  • Tipping for meals and ground transportation (Tips and Gratuities section)

Updated June 2023

With few exceptions, expenses submitted more than 60 days after they were incurred will be reported as additional income to the individual, in accordance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

To prevent expenses from being treated as taxable income, a transaction must be prepared and submitted into the Expense Requests system in Oracle Financials with all appropriate receipts or backup documentation within 60 days after the end of travel (for travel expenses), the expense posted date (for non travel expenses), or expected clearing date (for advances).

When that timeline is not met, preparers are required to provide a reason and now also a written explanation on the Expense Request Review page. 

This change helps Business Expense auditors understand the reason for the delay and allows them to review for an exception on late submissions at the time of audit. The goal of this process is to, where appropriate, reduce the number of 60-day tax letters sent to Payees.

The Review page in ERS was updated with this change in late May, and instructions are updated in How to Create Expense Report for SU Payees and How to Create Expense Report for non-SU Payees (Visitor Reimbursement).

Updated June 2023

Previously, the Business Expense team was called the Travel and Reimbursement team (T&R). References to “Travel & Reimbursement (T&R)” have been replaced with the name “Business Expense” in most sections of Oracle Financials. These terms refer to the same team within FMS. This central team, a part of Financial Management Services, is responsible for administering policies and reviewing and processing transactions for business and travel expenses.

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