The general rule is specifically addressed by state regulations, 1C.S.R.10-3(2), and applies to all expenditures (regardless of whether paid by P-Card, payment request, travel expense reimbursement, etc.) It states that:
any expenditure for goods or services which are not apparently or cannot be substantially justified as directly related to the transaction of state business is unallowable.
Examples of non-allowed expenditures per policy:
Employee parties Employee Gifts
Holiday cards and decorations Personal Club Memberships
Memorial Flowers Political and Charitable Contributions
Traffic Tickets Agency Team Uniforms
Personal food for office Lunch Meetings with no outside guest
Expenses related to holiday, or other open houses, including food and beverages should be balanced between 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.
An exception is made for 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. Holiday decorations are allowed for commonly accessed public areas (see Holiday Decorations Guidelines policy).
The above link provides examples of both disallowed and allowed expenditures. Some expenditures are only allowed with the approval of the Vice President, or the President (or his/her delegate.) Note: Exceptions to the Fiscal Responsibility Policy must be approved by the Vice President.
At times, it is acceptable for expenditures to be paid through departmental unrestricted Foundation funds. Generally, no expense should be paid by Foundation funds that would not be payable by University Funds (regarding its direct business purpose.) However, any alcoholic beverages expenditures for a group business meeting or event at which a donor or outside guest is in attendance may, with advance approval, be paid by Foundation funds. However, the rule of thumb remains that the expense is only appropriate if the expenditure for goods or services is directly related to the transaction of state business.
When unclear, err on the conservative side. In the past, various audits have questioned a number of departmental expenditures incurred. For example, sodas and snacks for staff and faculty; flowers; groceries; personal phones, iPods; etc.
At the same time, it should be noted that certain expenditures for one department may be directly related to the conduct of business, but not allowable for another department. For example, groceries can be directly related to classroom requirements for the Hospitality Department; purchase of blue jeans, costumes and props may be justified for the Theater Department; purchase of large group meals may be justified for the Band Department while the students are in practice; and purchase of large amounts of pizza may be justified for the Multicultural Services grants such as the Kauffman events.
Ultimately, as Department Head, you are accountable for all funds expended in your department, and the following is recommended: