Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 400: Expenditures
Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 03/11/2016



Please see current Fiscal Policy Manual for current policies


This policy only includes hosting of non-employees. See FIS 410-07 Refreshments or Meals at Unit Functions for employee-only functions.  See FIS 410-29 Meals on One Day Trip for employee and student group meals when not in over-night travel status.


The University or an employee, in the normal conduct of a program/activity, may serve as host for official guests of the institution by paying for their meals, refreshments, transportation or other expenses with university funds.  An official guest is a person who has been invited to an OSU facility or function for a specific purpose that benefits the university’s mission.  Official guests include, but are not limited to, candidates to fill positions [with possible accompanying family member(s)], prospective students, visiting scientists/ scholars/artists, dignitaries, guest/seminar speakers, advisory board members, prospective student athletes within appropriate athletic association guidelines, and other guests whose visit provides a clear benefit to the institution.  A clear benefit to OSU must be documented when requesting payment of invited guest expenses and approval by appropriate program personnel or budget authority should be received prior to extending an invitation.

If a meal of an invited guest is not hosted, the guest can be reimbursed as a non-employee under the same travel policy as employees of the University. Employee family member(s) meals are not normally reimbursable; however, sometimes a job candidate or official guest is accompanied by a family member(s). Only in these cases is an employee family member(s) meal an allowable cost. Employee requests for reimbursement of accompanying family member expenses should be evaluated for their reasonableness and necessity prior to being approved.


When meals or refreshments are arranged in advance for an entire group of persons, these are hosted groups.  Examples of university activities involving hosted groups are conferences, departmental retreats, commencement events, community or public relations events, and student activities.  Refreshments may also be provided at a focus group working session or when hosting an appreciation event for students or volunteers in recognition of specific accomplishment.  See FIS 410-08 Employee Recognition policy, FIS 410-09 Graduation Event Expenses and FIS 410-21 for Conference Expenses for further information.

Requesting payment:

  • Employee reimbursements – complete a Personal Reimbursement (form) with required attachments and submit to the appropriate Business Center.
  • Vendor invoice payment (caterer or restaurant) - submit to the appropriate Business Center with required attachments


1. 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why) -

  1. Who:    Names of the individuals hosted and the individuals doing the hosting. Also, describe the title/relationship to the University for each attendee to help understand the business purpose.
  2. What:   What was the nature of the hosted event? Was it lunch, dinner, breakfast, entertainment, or something else?
  3. When: The dates and times of hosted events.
  4. Where: Location or locations that the hosting took place.
  5. Why:    Purpose and reason for hosting. Must describe what the benefit gained to OSU was from conducting the hosting.

Note: Names are not required when hosting large informal group gatherings; however, the announcement or agenda of the group gathering indicating the University purpose is to be attached to the reimbursement or invoice payment request.

2. Receipts - meals, gratuities, alcoholic beverages and any charges for room use are to be separately itemized. A "tear tag" showing only the total charge is inadequate for reimbursement. The employee should insist on an original itemized receipt. Credit card charge slips provide proof of payment, but may not provide necessary itemization. In the case where a receipt has been lost, contact the appropriate Business Center.

3. Average Amount - the calculated average cost per person for refreshments or meals must be included on the first line of TEXT of the Banner invoice or journal voucher. The average is determined by dividing the total cost (meal/refreshments including tip and delivery charge) by the number of attendees.

Allowable costs:

1. Meal and refreshment costs should be reasonable for the occasion. Approved OSU travel per diem rates will be used to check for the reasonableness standard. The 15% allowable gratuity is included in the per diem rate. Meal expenses significantly exceeding the OSU per-diem rates require documentation explaining the reason for the excess and the approval of the department head. The following is considered a best practice for determining what rates may be appropriate when Business Center personnel identify a departmental pattern of significant departure from per diem rates:

  • Business Center management should consult with the department head, administrative head, or Dean to come to an agreement in determining reasonable meal reimbursement rates based on the unique circumstances of a specific or recurring situation.
  • The agreement should be documented and should include an explanation that supports why per diem rates are not sufficient and higher rates are justified.
  • A copy of the agreement should be submitted to Business Affairs.

2.      Gratuities/tips - reimbursement for a tip of up to 15% of the charge is allowable when hosting groups or guests.  The 15% limit does not apply when the establishment adds a service charge for larger groups in lieu of gratuity. In this case, the amount of the service charge is not within the control of the customer.  Tips or fees for alcoholic beverage service are not reimbursable.  These costs need to be separated and included with alcoholic beverage purchase.

3.      Alcoholic beverages -reimbursement of alcoholic beverages is not allowed on institutional funds.  When an alcoholic beverage is served at banquets or group activities conducted as part of a workshop or conference where the full cost of such beverages is recovered through charges to the participants or sponsoring group, the income and costs must be accounted for in the appropriate fund (only allowed on 1xxxxx Auxiliary or 05xxxx Designated Operating funds).  The institution is responsible for compliance with all laws and Oregon Liquor Control Commission regulations, including obtaining a one-day license for serving beer and wine. Expenses for alcoholic beverages must be separately identified and billed directly to OSUF.

4.      Room use charges - establishments may charge a room use fee when there is a large gathering requiring a separate room.  Process payments using account code 28606 Conference Facilities or 24151 Building Rental as appropriate for the occasion.

Official guests hosted at an employee’s home:

The employee can request reimbursement for food and supplies purchased for the function.  The Personal Reimbursement form must include an itemized sales slip of the items purchased, a list of attendees, and a clear statement of the business purpose.  Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable from E&G funds. When requesting reimbursement through OSUF, additional documentation/justification must be included to demonstrate the appropriateness of the request.

Account Codes:

Account code 28611 Refreshments and Food – Departmental is for costs associated with business, instructional, or informational departmental meetings where attendees are OSU employees, the business purpose is appropriate, and justification for serving food has been approved.  See FIS 410-07 Refreshments or Meals at Unit Functions for policy.

Account code 28612 Hosting Groups and Guests is for costs of non-alcoholic beverages and food served at a function associated with group gatherings or official guest hosting for the purpose of instruction, information dissemination, or faculty/staff recruiting.  The business purpose stated with the reimbursement request needs to clearly distinguish the function from those activities listed for account code 28613 Public Relations. Note:  University funds should not be used to purchase food served as refreshments during a for-credit class.

Account code 28613 Public Relations is for authorized expenditures made in connection with public relations activities.  These include graduation activities; recognition events for students, volunteers, dignitaries, or donors; recruiting of students; student group meetings; or other functions where there is no instruction or information formally presented.  It is recommended that costs be submitted directly to OSU Foundation whenever possible.  It is not required for these expenses to be recorded at OSU. 

Account code 28603 Conference Meals is for meals that are catered or served as part of an OSU-hosted conference or workshop.  Use account code 28604 Conference Refreshments for food, drinks and supplies for refreshment breaks.   Note: Use of conference expense account codes (28602 - 28606) is limited to organized conferences, workshops, and meetings sponsored by OSU, and when persons from outside OSU are in attendance.  This could be a conference held at OSU-owned facilities or at other locations where a program agenda and information is disseminated.  Generally, these account codes are used on Designated Operating workshop funds (05xxxx) where the participant has paid a registration fee.  Conference account codes are not to be used for departmental retreats.  See FIS 410-21: Conference Expenses for further information.

Account code 20300 Student Meals should be used for athletic training meals where the cost is allowed per appropriate athletic association guidelines and special student group meals while at normal campus locations. When these students are in travel mode the 39xxx account code series should be used. Note: special student group activities are part of a self-support instructional program and the participant is charged a fee to cover the cost.