Officers and employees often travel as part of their official duties, whether it is to attend conferences, training sessions or to perform other job-related duties. While travel and conference expenses are generally not a significant budgetary item, the opportunities for improper or even fraudulent reimbursements make travel and conference expenses a risk area that creates the need for diligent oversight. A long line of audit findings have emphasized the need to provide guidance regarding the management of travel and conference expenses. Some examples of our audit findings in this area include:1
- A lack of travel policies and inadequate travel policies, including a lack of guidance on the types of expenses typically reimbursable and general maximum reimbursable amounts.
- Not obtaining governing board approval before attending conferences.
- Alcohol purchased with taxpayer dollars.
- Payment of spousal and other non-employee travel with public funds.
- Reimbursement of travel expenses to employees even when the local government or school district's credit card was used for these expenses.
- Extension of trips after conferences for personal reasons at local government or school district expense.
- Missing or insufficient documentation of expenses incurred, including a lack of documentation showing that travel-related expenses were for local government or school district purposes.
- Inadequate audit of travel reimbursement claims, including a lack of verifying mileage claims.
All references in this guide to "employees" should be interpreted to mean both officers (elected and appointed) and employees of local governments and school districts.
1 Office of the New York State Comptroller audit reports are available at: www.osc.state.ny.us/local-government/audits