Handbook of Operating Procedures

Official Function Expenditures (Entertainment)

Policy Number: 12


Expenditure of university funds for entertainment


Employees and students

Date Reviewed:
March 2008
Responsible Office:
Finance and Business Affairs
Responsible Executive:
Senior Vice President, Finance and Business Affairs


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) supports appropriate expenditures of discretionary monies for such purposes as entertaining visiting scholars at lunches or dinners, hosting social engagements to promote a particular program or activity, and a variety of other types of social interaction. These types of activities are categorized generally as "official functions."

Only authorized representatives of the university may expend university discretionary funds for these purposes. In this context, "authorized" is defined as having fiduciary responsibility for discretionary accounts used for these purposes.

Such expenditures are usually handled only as reimbursements after the event; however, for larger scale events, the university will sometimes pay for a portion of the amenities at an event in advance through a check request process.

Official function expenditures are appropriate only in locations where business affairs can be discussed comfortably. The university will not reimburse any such expenditure for attendance at cultural or sporting events such as the ballet, the circus, baseball games or similar functions.


I. Guidelines and Limitations

Employees, residents and students may obtain reimbursement from departmental discretionary funds for certain expenses incurred in the course of official function activities that directly benefit the university. Reimbursements are subject to the following specific guidelines and limitations:

  • The individual is responsible for obtaining appropriate documentation and authorization of the expenditure.
  • Reimbursement for official function expenditures will not be made to a prospective employee or to dependents of an employee.
  • The university will reimburse up to a maximum of $90 per person per official function (using non-restricted funds) for an official function expenditure.
  • The reimbursement of gratuities related to official functions may not exceed 20 percent of the total bill.
  • All requests for reimbursement of such official function expenditures must include:
    • Names of individuals present at the function and their institutional affiliations;
    • University business topic(s) discussed or benefit the university derived from the event;
    • Date and location of official function; and,
    • Original invoice or receipt.

Additional information can be found by referring to the Reimbursement Guide; Payment Procedures, Business Meals Section and the Petty Cash Guidelines.

Any request for the purchase of tables at functions of profit or nonprofit organizations must be coordinated through the Office of Institutional Advancement. Refer to HOOP Policy 172 Marketing the University through Sponsorships.

The university generally does not make direct payments to any commercial establishment for allowable official function expenses. Exceptions may be made where the payments are for services rendered for an official university event. If the total amount for any such official function expense (whether reimbursement or otherwise) is projected to exceed $2,500, the department must complete the Official Functions form and obtain approval of the event from the appropriate dean or vice president, as well as the Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer (COO/CFO) or designee prior to incurring expenses. This request must describe how the event supports university activities and purposes.

II. Authorization to Expend Funds for Official Functions

To protect both the claimant and the institution from improper obligation of funds, the request for reimbursement must be supported by both the security code of the individual responsible for the account against which reimbursement will be made, and official documentation of the incurred expenses (i.e., individually itemized, original receipts) as specified above. A credit card receipt is accepted as official documentation for business meal expense on unrestricted fund sources. An itemized receipt is required when requesting reimbursement from some restricted funds. All claims for official function expense reimbursement will be audited by the Employee Reimbursement or Disbursement staff for compliance with related rules and regulations. Any reimbursement request that appears to be non-beneficial, excessive or extravagant in the context of the event may require additional support by the claimant and/or approval by the appropriate dean or vice president.

III. Account Restrictions

Certain restrictions limit the reimbursement of official function expenditures from specific fund accounts. The following restrictions apply:

  • State Funds cannot be used to reimburse or pay for official function expenditures.
  • In some cases, grant funds may be used but the authorizer is responsible for ensuring allowability and determining the appropriate account.
  • Expenses incurred for tobacco products are not reimbursable under any circumstances.
  • Expenses incurred for alcoholic beverages and other allowable official function expenditures may be reimbursed from unrestricted funds generated by service-providing entities that generate revenue from external sources for the university (e.g., professional services, laboratory services, MSRDP ambulatory clinics, auxiliary enterprises). Private funds may be used to reimburse expenditures of this kind only if specifically permitted by the terms of administration of the account.
IV. Official Functions Related to Travel

When legitimate official function expenditures are generated in the course of travel on official university business, those claims and documentation must accompany the request for travel reimbursement.

V. Reimbursement Mechanisms

The university uses two methods for reimbursing official function expenditures: non-po vouchers and travel po-vouchers.

  • The non-po voucher process involves initiating an electronic request within the financial management system and submitting it along with itemized, original receipts to Employee Reimbursement for processing. A screen print of the electronic transaction must be used to support the request for reimbursement. Refer to the Non-PO Voucher Section of the Reimbursement Guide. For official functions exceeding $2,500, prior completion of the Official Functions form must be submitted to Finance and Administration.
  • The travel po-voucher is used to expedite official function expenditures incurred in conjunction with authorized travel. Original receipts must be submitted along with screen prints of the po-voucher to the Employee Reimbursement Team. Refer to the Travel Guide for specific details and instructions.

Regardless of the method of reimbursement, any purchase documented by a grocery or cash register receipt must be individually identified and verified by the individual. Reimbursable items should be circled and initialed for identification when they appear on the same receipt with personal purchases. Texas sales tax will not be reimbursed unless the transaction is appropriately coded and charged to an unrestricted account.


ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Finance and Business Affairs  713-500-3158 https://inside.uthouston.edu/finance/index.htm
Expense Reimbursement Team 713-500-4958