The North Dakota University System (NDUS) adopted a new procedure that NDSU will need to follow effective immediately.
NDUS Procedure: 806.1 Payment or Reimbursement of Meals.
The procedure was adopted to further explain State Board of Higher Education Policy 806.1, Payment or Reimbursement of Meals and other Travel or Institutional Expenses. Policy 806.1 states that the cost of a meal paid or reimbursed by an NDUS institution may not in any case exceed a reasonable amount.
The new NDUS procedure defines a reasonable amount to be 125% of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) meal per diem. The procedure requires written justification of reasonableness for meals that exceed 125% of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) meal per diem.
The current North Dakota GSA rate per day is $46.00. 125% of the current rate is $57.50. GSA rates are updated annually in October. The upper limit of $57.50 is broken down by quarter as follows: breakfast $11.50, lunch $17.25, dinner $28.75.
Since meals under this procedure are group meals, departments now need to document the average actual cost per meal to determine compliance with the NDUS reasonable cost limit (i.e., the new 125% GSA rate). Example: If a dinner meal for 10 people, billed on one receipt, costs $250 (including beverages, tips, deserts, etc.), the average actual cost per meal is $25.00. Since $25.00 is under the NDUS reasonable cost limit (i.e., $28.75, see above) the meal cost is considered reasonable. If the average cost exceeded $28.75, additional written justification will be required.
The department paying the expense is responsible for justifying any amount over the 125% of the GSA rate. Examples of justifying reasonableness may include (not an all-inclusive list):
- Explaining the cost of meals is higher because room rental was waived for hosting the conference at their motel.
- Hosting a candidate and spouse for institutional recruitment. This involves showcasing Fargo, therefore, a variety of restaurants are used.
- Cost comparisons may be used to justify reasonableness.
- Conference meals paid for by participant registration fees.
The link to the NDUS procedure is http://www.ndus.edu/makers/procedures/NDUS/default.asp?PID=460&SID=60&printable=1.
The link to the current GSA per diem rates is http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120
Please note that this procedure does not change the per diem amounts reimbursed for employees traveling on business. The change does affect the amount NDSU can pay or reimburse when NDSU hosts a business meeting for dignitaries, guests, seminars, conferences, or other group meals.
The NDSU Policy Section 170, Payment of Meals for Staff and Guests, will be updated to reflect the NDUS requirement.
If you have any questions, please contact the Accounting Office at 231-7432.