Travel and Conference Expense Management

Local Government Management Guide

Introduction

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