Exceptions to Policy

Selected financial transactions that are exceptions to policy and require Deans' Office approval in L&S

Page updated in August 2014

Any questions on policy interpretations and procedures outlined below can be directed to Heidi E. Hoffman, Assistant Dean of the College, at 642-3081. Please note: The L&S Deans' Office is not the department of record for payment requests originating in L&S departments.

Documents are handled in the following manner:

  • Entertainment and travel reimbursements submitted to the Deans’ Office for approval should include a self-addressed envelope. The original approved documents will be returned to the department or CSS for submission and the completion of processing.
  • Documentation, once reviewed and approved by the dean, are returned as directed by the the preparer. Sending a self-addressed intercampus mail envelope with the documents is the best practice.
  • The Deans’ Office does not keep a record of documents reviewed for department/ CSS. 


Refer to Business and Finance Bulletin BUS-79

L&S administrative units affiliated with CSS should provide CSS with the needed documentation to process the reimbursement.

Per-person spending limits for entertainment expenditures (as of March 1, 2012):

  • Breakfast: $27/person
  • Lunch: $47/person
  • Dinner: $81/person
  • Light refreshments: $19/person

Note: These limits are set by UCOP policy. The reimbursement for a buffet reception cannot exceed the applicable per-person meal allowance associated with the type of buffet, i.e., breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Events that exceed the standard limit are considered exceptional and should have pre-approval, when possible.  See this memo from the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP).   

  • Events with food costs above the standard per-person limit up to or less than 50%:
    • These must be approved by the divisional dean. A memo stating the business justification for the exceptional expense should be included with the payment request documentation. 
  • Events with food costs between 50% and 200% above the standard per-person limit:
    • These must be approved by the EVCP. A memo stating the business justification for the exceptional expense, along with the payment request documentation, should be sent to the divisional dean for review and will be routed by the Deans' Office to the EVCP. Once approved, the EVCP’s office will route the documents as directed by the preparer. Sending a self-addressed intercampus mail envelope with the documents is the best practice.
  •  Events with food costs which exceed 200% of the standard per-person limit for meals:
    • Exceeding the standard limits by 200% must be due to circumstances which are unavoidable and necessary to accomplish a university business purpose. Prior approval is recommended whenever possible. These payment requests should be sent for initial review to the divisional dean and will be routed for final approval to the Office of the Chancellor.

Also considered exceptional are:

  • Entertainment of a spouse (or equivalent) of a host or a guest.
  • Tickets to entertainment or sporting events.
  • Faculty or staff picnics, holiday parties, or any event that falls under the event type "Employee Morale-Building Activities" (Note: Reimbursement is not permitted for employee birthdays, weddings, births/adoptions of children, anniversaries, farewell gatherings (other than retirement), Administrative Professional's Day, etc.)
  • Payment for any event for which the department chair was the host. For situations where the chair is seeking reimbursement for entertainment expenses incurred, see Chair Reimbursement, below.

Note that reimbursement for the purchase or consumption of alcohol is not considered exceptional and does not require a dean’s approval.

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  • Event date, event purpose, and justification for exceptional expense. The description of the event purpose must include a justification as to why the higher costs, if any, were unavoidable and necessary to achieve a university business purpose. The fact that actual costs exceeded the authorized rate is not in itself justification for the higher reimbursement rate. For employee recognition and spouse attendance, please clarify: does the employee recognition activity serve as a bona fide university purpose? Did the function require the attendance of a spouse? In other words, would exclusion be inappropriate given normal hospitality expectations (e.g., faculty recruitment)?


  • Documentation should note the number of participants and the per-person cost. The per-person rate is calculated on the basis of:
    • food
    • tax
    • service
    • delivery charges

Any costs associated with rental of meeting or conference facilities, equipment rentals, or decorations are not included in per-person cost calculations.

  • All expenses must be supported by original itemized receipts, which must be submitted with the request for payment. While UCOP policy states that receipts for expenses under $75 are not required, the L&S policy on this is more stringent. In the case of expenses under $75 in which receipts are lost and all measures to obtain a duplicate receipt have been exhausted, a statement should be provided explaining why such receipts are not being submitted, as well as an estimate of the total cost of the expense. Receipts should be taped on all four sides, not stapled, to a separate sheet of paper.
  • A guest list containing the name or group must be attached to the payment request to establish the business relationship of the participants being entertained to the university. It is not necessary to identify the name where the group is very large. In addition, a guest list need not be furnished in the case where the meeting is open to the public; however, it is always necessary to include the estimated number of attendees to determine the per-person cost. The calculated per-person cost for the event should be made clear in the documentation to help facilitate the speedy review of your reimbursement or purchase order.
  • Secure all required signatures. The host’s signature is always required. In all cases where the department chair is not the host, a department chair’s signature as reviewer is required as well. To ensure proper internal controls, an individual with delegated approval authority may not review or approve the entertainment expenses of anyone to whom he or she directly reports. The reviewer/approver should be the supervisor or at a higher classification than the person claiming the expenditure. For example, when the host is the department chair or director, the signature line for reviewer should remain blank until it arrives at the Deans' Office. The department MSO cannot review the entertainment expenses of his/her supervisor regardless of whether the expenses are exceptional. See the section for Chair Reimbursements for more about this.  
  • Departments must ensure that the funding source and account number are accurate and appropriate.
    • Exceptional entertainment expenses and entertainment expenses which include the purchase of alcohol may not be charged to state funds.
    • Federal or local government contract and grant funds may be used to fund entertainment only if such expenses are specifically authorized in the contract or grant, or by agency policy, and only to the extent and for the purpose(s) so authorized.
    • Various non-state funds controlled by the university may be used to fund official entertainment, but only within the restrictions, if any, governing the use of the fund and within the policy set forth in university policy.
    • Each event type has an appropriate account code that should be used. For a list of entertainment account codes and descriptions visit Berkeley's Travel & Entertainment website.
    • Entertainment account codes can be used for both food/catering and room rental/conference facilities charges when billed by the same vendor for the same event. Room rental or conference facility charges from a separate vendor should be billed to accounts 56310, 56311 or 56312. (Note: since the per-person cost does not include room rental/conference facilities charges, equipment rentals, decorations, and other items, these should be a separate line item on the PO, even though they are billed to the same chartstring.)
  • While a pre-approval is not required in most cases, there may be some cases when you request a pre-approval in order to pay a vendor more swiftly. Prior approvals normally take the form of a memo or letter with the specifics of the event such as the food cost estimate, and the justification for the higher cost. The memo should be signed by the department chair. Be sure that the cost per-person for which you are seeking approval is a liberal estimate, or a range (such as up to 50% over the standard limit for the meal), because should the final event costs surpass your estimate, the pre-approval letter will not be sufficient, and another submission to the Deans’ Office (and EVCP if necessary) for approval will be required.


Refer to Business and Finance Bulletin g43

Exceptional membership payment requests need to be routed through the L&S Deans’ Office for approval. The department chair is considered the “department head” by the Deans’ Office and his/her signature approval is adequate for non-exceptional professional membership payment request. The only non-exceptional memberships that require a dean’s approval are those in the name of, or for, the department chair. 

Memberships are considered exceptional if they meet the following criteria:

  • All social membership payment requests are considered exceptional and require an approval from the divisional dean, with final approval by the chancellor. Social memberships are defined as those in business, athletic, luncheon, sporting, airport, and hotel clubs. To request approval for a social membership payment, a genuine business purpose must be established and the purchase order, with all accompanying documentation, must be sent to the L&S Deans’ Office. Memberships in social organizations are not chargeable to federal funds and should be charged to BFS account 57353. NOTE: Men and Women's Faculty Club memberships do not fall under this category and are not considered exceptional. They can be approved by your department chair.

  • Professional memberships which exceed an annual cost of $2,000 must be approved by the divisional dean.

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  • Does the organization support the teaching, research, and administrative or public service objectives of the employee's current position, of the department or of the campus? Organizations of universities and colleges (including professional schools and colleges), organizations of institutional service agencies and administrative officers, scholarly societies and community organizations are acceptable and should be charged to BFS account 57352.
  • Has the appropriate fund and account been charged? Generally, the college prefers that 19900 funds not be used to pay memberships although General Fund start-up or Committee on Research funds may be used for scholarly memberships. Use of 19900 funds for individual memberships will not be approved unless the membership provides a direct benefit to the department. If research funds are used for scholarly memberships, the department should maintain internal documentation of the PI's approval.
  • Professional memberships purchased for individual faculty members should not be redundant with departmental or campus-wide memberships.

Non-Cash Awards

Refer to January 1, 2014 Gift Policy Update G-41.

Certain allowable non-cash awards and sympathy gifts can be given to employees of the university and are subject to approval by the department head. Allowable awards (work-related) include:

  • Employee recognition: up to, and not to exceed, a value of $75
  • Length of service: up to, and not to exceed, a value of $400 
  • Sympathy gifts: up to a value of $75. Sympathy gifts valued at over $75 require exceptional approval and must be reviewed by the dean and approved by the EVCP.  

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  • Is documentation provided? Documentation must specify the type of award, the purpose of the award, the special circumstances that require such an exception, and the name of the employee for whom the exception will be granted.
  • Is the appropriate fund being charged? Expenditures for employee awards may be charged to state funds. Various non-state funds under university control (e.g., endowments or gifts) may be used for employee awards, in accordance with the Finance Bulletin and subject to any restrictions on the funds. State or federal funds may not be used to pay for sympathy gifts. Length of service or retirement awards may not be purchased with federal funds.

Note: Donations or contributions to non-employees are not permitted under university policy. Detailed information may be found in the University Policy on Employee Non-Cash Awards and the University Policy on Gifts Presented to Non-Employees on Behalf of the University.


See Section D-371-35

Honoraria from L&S departments that exceed a value of  $1000 must be routed to the L&S Deans' Office for review and approval. Honoraria below $1000 do not need a L&S Deans' Office review. Authorization for honoraria below $1000 is designated to the department chairs.

The Deans’ Office does not keep a record of documents reviewed for department/CSS.

Honoraria are considered exceptional if they meet the following criteria:

  • All honoraria to non-UC personnel that are more than $10,000 are considered exceptional and require review by the dean and subsequent approval by the EVCP or the Chancellor.

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  • An honorarium payment cannot be made to affiliates who make significant instructional contributions to a course, or over a designated time period, such as to visiting scholars. If the recipient is not an affiliate and therefore eligible for an honorarium please indicate that in the comments of the purchase order. This will help reduce the amount of time it takes to process your request.
  • Honorarium payments to personnel of other UC Campuses must be paid through an Interlocation Form routed through the Deans' Office. All honoraria paid to University of California faculty must conform to the relevant provisions in the Academic Personnel Manual Sections 025. For further information on honoraria paid to University of California faculty, please contact the Directors of Administration in your division. The interlocation form can be found here.  After Deans’ Office approval, the interlocation form will be routed to the Academic Personnel Office for review. Refer to the e-mail communication of Oct. 6, 2008 for routing instructions. 
  • If the honorarium recipient is a foreign visitor who requires a wired payment, visit the Financial Operations webpage for forms, instructions, and procedures.
  • Documentation should include a copy of the flyer or announcement of the event. If a flyer or announcement is not available, alternative documentation should be included, such as an e-mail from the department chair or from the inviting faculty member, outlining the speaking event which took place.
  • Exceptional honorarium purchase orders require pre-approval from the EVCP. The pre-approval request should be accompanied by documentation as available (outlined in the bullets above) and should be in the form of a memo from the department chair or manager giving justification for the exceptional payment. It should be routed to the divisional dean for review and will be subsequently routed to the EVCP.


Refer to Business and Finance Bulletins G-13 and G-28, Academic Personnel Manual Section 560.

L&S administrative units affiliated with CSS should provide CSS with the needed documentation to process the reimbusement.

  • Transportation expenses include the following: charges for commercial carrier fares; car and aircraft rental charges; private car mileage allowances; emergency repair to university cars; overnight and day auto parking; bridge and road tolls; taxi and public transportation fares; and all other charges for transportation services necessary to accomplish the official business purpose of the trip.
  • Subsistence expenses incurred while on travel status consist of charges for lodging and meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). The expenses reimbursed must be ordinary and necessary to accomplish the official business purpose of the trip. Subsistence expenses incurred within the vicinity of an employee's headquarters or residence shall not be reimbursed. To be eligible for reimbursement, actual expenses must be documented with original itemized receipts and proof of payment, such as a hotel statement which shows a zero balance. Per-diem for travel within the continental United States is not allowed, except for travel exceeding 30 consecutive days. The traveler should give a clear breakdown of M&IE expenses while on travel status. Any reimbursement request that appears to be claiming per-diem will not be approved. (For more information, see http://controller.berkeley.edu/travel/references/travel-policy-nutshell.)
  • When the traveler incurs necessary entertainment/hospitality expenses during the course of the trip, such as entertaining guests during a meal for which the traveler was the host, these additional expenses should be broken out and submitted on a separate entertainment expense voucher using "University Employee on Travel Status" as the expense type. Travel and entertainment expense vouchers for the same trip and traveler should refer to one another in their comments, as well as be submitted together for approval when possible. 

See Section XII.B.2 of Bulletin G-28 for complete documentation requirements. For M&IE and lodging reimbursement caps, see Appendix B of Finance Bulletin G-28. Meal and incidental expenses are capped at $71 per day.

More helpful links

  1. General information about what CSS offers and where to get help.
  2. Basic instructions on how to submit a reimbursement request.

Exceptions to Policy that require dean's approval:

  • Meal costs in excess of M&IE caps are considered exceptional and require dean's approval, as outlined in Appendix B of Finance Bulletin G-28.
  • Business class or first class air travel.

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  •  The exception request must specify the business purpose, circumstances or need, applicable dates, and the name of the individual to whom the exception is granted.
  • The department must demonstrate that the use of non-coach class was under the following conditions:
    • The use of coach class would be more expensive or time-consuming, or
    • Business or first-class travel is the only service offered between two points.
    • The coach class trip would require circuitous routing, unduly long layovers or not afford the traveler opportunity for a normal rest.
    • The traveler requires an accommodation for a disability or other medical reason which warrants the exception. 

Chair Reimbursement

Refer to Business and Finance Bulletins BUS-79 and G-28

In order to ensure that the approval of entertainment and travel is entirely independent, individuals with delegated approval authority shall not approve their own reimbursements.

All travel and entertainment reimbursement requests where the department chair or director is the host or traveler, even those that are not exceptional according to Bulletins BUS-79 and  G-28, must be routed to the Deans' Office for review. Purchase orders which reimburse a department chair or director for incidental purchases (supplies, books) do not require a dean’s approval, unless the type of purchase is deemed exceptional by UCOP or UCB policy.

The department MSO cannot review or signature-approve the travel or entertainment expenses of the department chair or director.

What the Deans' Office looks for:

  • Guest list, business purpose, proof of payment, and original itemized receipts are required, as are standard with any payment request.