Missouri State University

Fiscal Responsibility Policy

Policy statement

The University has decentralized budget planning and decision making to give departments more control over their expenditures.  This document provides guidance to those employees in the proper and legal use of scarce University resources.  The University recognizes the value in being reminded it is not our money we are spending, and we want to spend it in a way our students and taxpayers agree is in furtherance of our educational mission.

The University receives funding from diverse sources ranging from taxpayers and students to benefactors.  Regardless of the source, the University and its employees have an obligation to practice conscious and wise stewardship of these limited funds.

Official guidance pertaining to types of expenditures (claims) which may not withstand the scrutiny of any person or agency is found in the Missouri Code of State Regulations, 1 C.S.R. 10-3(2).  It states:

The following are types of claims which may not be certified as regular claims unless special circumstances substantially justify the granting of an exception to this rule:

Claims for the purchase of goods or services which are not apparently or cannot be substantially justified as directly related to the transaction of state business.  For example, employee parties, agency team uniforms, employee gifts, holiday cards and decorations, personal club memberships, memorial flowers, political and charitable contributions and traffic tickets.  An exception is made for the purchase of retirement, service, political and other recognition award gifts which may be certified as regular claims if reasonable in relation to the circumstances of the award and primarily represent a token or recognition and not a reward with a cash equivalent or substantial monetary value.  Claims for the expense of receptions for employee recognition events should be at a nominal price per person attending.  Holiday decorations are allowed for commonly accessed public areas such as reception and waiting rooms.

The University's policy addressing impropriety in expenditure of University funds related to the above-quoted guidance is as follows.  This Fiscal Responsibility Policy is not intended to restrict University expenditures approved by budget or contract, but only to address those types of expenditures referenced in the quoted state regulations.

The responsibility for implementing this policy lies with University managers, and in particular those approving expenditures.  Financial Services and Internal Audit may review expenditures, but this should not be construed as limiting the responsibility of the University official authorizing the expenditure.

Procurement of and/or payments for goods or services which are not apparently or cannot be substantially justified as directly related to the transaction of University business and in the best interests of the University will be disallowed.

Attachment 1 contains examples of the types of expenditures which would not be allowed by state law and University policy unless special circumstances were present.  These examples are provided for assistance and this list should not be construed as exhaustive.

In order for an exception to be granted for any items, the benefit to the University must be either readily apparent from the supporting document(s) or explained in an accompanying statement.  However, in either instance, the document (purchase order/request, payment request, or petty cash voucher) must be signed by the respective authorizing official.  All expenditures are subject to review by the University's auditors.

Judgment must be applied when determining the propriety of a charge to University funds.  Approval of the charge/purchase constitutes the authorizing official's determination that the expense is directly related to the transaction of University business and in the best interests of the University.  Requests to purchase items not deemed directly related to fulfillment of the University's mission should be rejected by the authorizing official.  Similarly, payment or reimbursement for incurred expenses inconsistent with the University's policy will become the personal responsibility of the authorizing official.  Exceptions to this Policy require written approval from the appropriate Vice President, the President or the Board of Governors.

The policy is not to be construed to prohibit individual employees from utilizing their personal funds for office receptions, cards, flowers, gifts, holiday decorations, etc.  Private (foundation) funds may also be used as authorized by Foundation policies.

All Departments must comply with the rules set forth below when University funds are being expended.  The term “University funds” does not include Foundation funds or other private funds.

Food and Refreshments

  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for guests and their hosts visiting the University on official business.
  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, receptions, banquets, ceremonies, and other official functions of the University which include guests of the University.
  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for a reception to honor a retiring employee, the departure of the President or Provost of the University, and to honor employee service.
  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for University training only if the training is scheduled to last more than two hours.
  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for University meetings not attended by guests of the University only if they occur during times outside the normal business hours of the University and when such meetings span the normal meal hour unless approved in advance, in writing or by e-mail, by the President or Provost.
  • Food and/or non-alcoholic beverages may be purchased for meetings of the Board of Governors, Presidential functions, and up to two retreats held annually by Administrative Council and University departments.
  • Bottled water for water coolers for general departmental usage may be purchased with University funds as available resources allow.
  • This policy does not limit the ability of the University to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages for student events including student recruitment.
  • When procuring food and refreshments, the user should comply with the applicable terms and conditions of the University’s contracts for food services and concessions.

Organizational Dues and Memberships

  • University funds may be used to pay for institutional memberships in professional societies or associations.
  • University funds may be used to pay for individual memberships in, and continuing education sponsored by, professional societies or associations as approved by the President, Vice President-level employees, or Deans, as available resources allow.  Individual memberships are limited to no more than two per employee unless approved in advance, in writing or by e-mail, by the President, Provost, or Vice President-level administrator.
  • University funds may be used to pay for individual civic club memberships only for the President, Provost, Vice President-level employees, or Deans as available resources allow.
  • Each cost center administrator must report all individual memberships purchased to the President annually. See instructions.

Other Specific Policy Directives

  1. The following promotional items may be allowed with the approval of the Vice President, Provost, or the President (or his/her delegate):
    1. "Premiums" used in fund raising activities each year, e.g., KSMU, that are presented, not as gifts, but in recognition of achievement by donors, and which, are in fact, typically more than compensated for by the recipient;
    2. Tokens of appreciation given to students or awards provided as a direct result of nomination, screening and selection processes at a cost of $50 or less;
    3. Apparel at a cost of $50 or less per employee each fiscal year containing the University logo, imprint or symbol which is required to be worn or used by the employee in the scheduled performance of job duties or responsibilities for which the respective Vice President or the President documents in writing that the apparel is appropriate for the performance of the duties/responsibilities;
    4. Souvenirs or tokens of appreciation given to high school counselors or prospective students as part of recruitment efforts at a cost of $35 or less;
    5. Complimentary tickets to University events for present and former members of the Board of Governors/Regents, President(s) of the University, legislators, state officials and friends of the University.
  2. Expenditures that would be improper if done on behalf of University employees may be acceptable if done for friends of the University.  For example, holiday cards or flowers sent to major supporters of programs may be appropriate, as would cards used as part of student recruitment.  Documentation explaining the exception should be attached for review by auditors.
  3. Expenditures which may be authorized by the President may similarly be authorized by the Chancellors of the West Plains and Mountain Grove campuses at those locations, and likewise Vice Presidential authorization herein may be exercised by the Deans at West Plains and the Director of Fruit Science at Mountain Grove.
  4. The University policy on awards, gifts, and prizes is contained in a separate policy.

Fiscal Responsibility – Attachment 1

The following are examples of non-allowed expenditures, unless exception is granted as stated in this Fiscal Responsibility Policy (FRP).

  • Employee parties or party items (other than for retirement, service or for other recognition purposes);
  • Greeting and special occasion cards (other than President's holiday cards and staff anniversary cards, or as allowed by FRP paragraph 9);
  • Holiday decorations (other than for commonly accessed public areas such as reception and waiting rooms);
  • Flowers (other than memorial flowers purchased through the President's office on behalf of the University);
  • Personal club/organization memberships unless permitted by FRP;
  • Coffee makers and supplies except where stations are established to serve the public as external relationships unless permitted by FRP (requires Vice President's or President's approval);
  • Event tickets for employees unless the employee is expected to attend such function as part of their employment responsibilities or where provided free to the University or to encourage participation at University events (requires Vice President's or President's approval).  Additionally, excess tickets to University events may be provided to University employees with special consideration to employees of the unit sponsoring the event, with Vice Presidential approval;
  • Postage stamps for personal use;
  • Expenses related to holiday, or other open houses, including food and beverages should be balanced considering the expression of employee appreciation and the benefit to employee morale, with fiscal responsibility.   In addition to the authorized President’s holiday reception, each Vice President should limit such expenses for his/her division to $3 per full-time employee within his/her supervision annually.  Any additional expenses should be reimbursed by Foundation or other private funds;
  • Personal food items for office staff (candy, soda, etc.). (As adopted by the Board of Governors, April 20, 2001, and amended on November 15, 2002, and December 17, 2010, and February 11, 2011.)