The purpose of this section is to provide guidance to agencies about record retention requirements for documents supporting expense reports. Agencies are now required to retain documentation supporting Travel and Expense transactions for six years.
Online agencies must use the attachment feature in the SFS to store electronic documents in support of Travel and Expense transactions. If a traveler’s documentation in the SFS is not included or is determined to be incomplete during the review process, the transaction in its entirety should be returned so the traveler (or his/her proxy) can attach the necessary documentation. Bulkload agencies must retain supporting documentation for expense reports at the agency and make this documentation available to OSC auditors upon request.
Attaching electronic documents in support of Travel and Expense transactions facilitates the audit and review process. The increased efficiency associated with having all documents necessary for review and approval attached to the transaction benefits the traveler, supervisor, agency approvers and OSC auditors. For online agencies, to the extent possible, OSC will use the expense report attachments in SFS to review and approve transactions prior to payment. In addition, OSC may contact online or bulkload agency employees to request documentation be sent to OSC or schedule time for an on-site review. In either case, supporting documentation must be readily available to OSC’s auditors to facilitate timely payment approval.
OSC’s request for payment documentation is in support of its constitutional and statutory authority and responsibility to audit State payments. Agencies should not anticipate an engagement letter or opening conference in conjunction with these requests.
Attaching Documents in the SFS for Expense Reports
Online agencies are required to use the attachment feature in the SFS to store electronic documents in support of Travel and Expense transactions for supervisory review/approval and for OSC audit. The scanned images may also be used as the sole documents of record only when the agency has complied with the State’s record retention policies and the Guide to Financial Operations, Chapter XIV, Section 9 - Statewide Financial System Imaging and Attachment Guidance. If the agency does not follow these requirements, the official record must be retained in a central location – e.g., the agency’s Finance Office. Agencies are not permitted to allow individual travelers to retain the official records.
Each agency must design a well–developed, documented procedure to ensure attachments (i) retain the integrity of the original documents, (ii) support legitimate payments, and (iii) comply with relevant records retention requirements.
There are a variety of documents that can support an expense report. When using the attachment feature in the SFS, online agencies should evaluate which documents to attach as support for the payment. Employees who review and approve expense reports must verify that attached documents are sufficient and appropriate to support payment of the expense report.
Agencies will have the option to attach documents supporting Travel and Expense transactions at either the header level or the expense line level of expense reports. While one option is not required over the other, it is considered a best practice – and will facilitate quicker transaction approval – if agencies attach documents that apply to the entire expense report at the header level and attach documents specific to a line on the expense report to the expense line level.
Documents supporting expense reports must be retained in a central location, e.g., the agency’s Finance Office. Agencies are not permitted to allow individual travelers to retain the official records.
Required Forms and Supporting Documents
Online and Bulkload Agencies
If any of the following forms are used to create an expense report, the forms must be retained according to the record retention schedule. Online agencies should attach applicable forms to each Travel and Expense transactions in the SFS.
The following list contains examples of the types of additional types of documents online agencies should attach in the SFS and bulkload agencies should retain in support of expense reports.
If a traveler’s documentation in the SFS is deemed to be incomplete during the review process, the transaction in its entirety should be returned so the traveler (or his/her proxy) can attach the necessary additional documentation. The traveler should then submit the transaction through the appropriate supervisory chain in its entirety.
Upon request from OSC, bulkload agencies may provide the above documents in hard copy or electronic format.
|Office of the State Comptroller – Guide to Financial Operations||Chapter XIV, Section 9 - Statewide Financial System Imaging and Attachment Guidance||Information on attaching images in support of payments and how to handle potential exceptions.|
|New York State Archives||http://www.archives.nysed.gov/a/records/index.shtml||New York State Archives and Record Administration (SARA) requirements for managing records.|
|New York State Archives||http://www.archives.nysed.gov/records/mr_laws_reg188.shtml||New York Codes, Rules and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Title 8, Part 188: Framework of policies and procedures for the creation, maintenance, disposition, and selective preservation of State government records.|
|New York State Archives||http://www.archives.nysed.gov/publications/general-retention-and-disposition-schedule-new-york-state-government-records-effective||General Retention and Disposition Schedule for New York State Government Records.|
|New York State Office for Information Technology Services||https://its.ny.gov/electronic-signatures-and-records-act-esra||Guidance on how to ensure electronic documents are authentic, secure, and accessible.|
|Department of State – Committee on Open Government||http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/foil2.html||Public Officers Law, Article 6, Sections 84-90: Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requirements pertaining to the public’s right to gain access to government records.|
Each agency should work with its Records Management officer and SARA officials to ensure its record retention program is conducive to its internal needs as well as laws and regulations.
In addition, certain agencies have programs that are subject to oversight by other agencies or Federal government auditors. Record retention for those programs must meet those requirements as well.
If you have questions regarding OSC’s access to records, please contact the Bureau of State Expenditures’ Customer Service Help Desk at (518) 474-4868, or by email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.