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Approving Meetings and Entertainment

Read guidelines for approving meetings and entertainment, and find out how to establish and cancel approval authority.

Background: Because UC San Diego is a publicly supported institution, departments should spend entertainment funds prudently. Along with these guidelines, you can also refer to the Meetings and Entertainment Overview.

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Entertainment guidelines

Before planning and approving entertainment, review the following guidelines:

Subject Guidelines

Benefits to UC San Diego

Anticipated benefits should outweigh the costs. Explore alternatives that would be equally effective in accomplishing the desired objectives.
Frequency of occurrence How often does the event takes place relative to the nature of the event. If on a routine basis, it is generally ineligible for reimbursement.
What qualifies? Not all occasions qualify as official entertainment. Before authorizing, ensure that expenses are allowable. See a summary of standard and special entertainment.
Funding Some fund sources may not allow entertainment expenditures, so verify that available funds are appropriate for the expenses.
Appropriate amounts

Expenses should not exceed the per-person maximum for the meal type which includes tax, tip and services. 

Tax issues

The IRS considers entertainment expenses as reportable income to the host/payee:

  • Expenses are not substantiated with receipts ($75 or greater, or special entertainment in any amount).
  • The expenses are lavish or extravagant for the type of function.
  • The entertainment is not directly related to the employee's job.
The official host (or other designated employee) is not present when the activity takes place.

Obtaining approval

Standard entertainment: Can be approved by people who have delegated approval authority for University-sponsored entertainment and have filed a completed Approval Authority for University Entertainment (PDF) with Travel and Entertainment. Approval authority varies by department, but in general the following positions can approve meetings and entertainment, if officially delegated:

  • All campus units: The chancellor and the vice chancellor – CFO can authorize meeting and entertainment expenses for all campus units.
  • Vice chancellor areas: Vice chancellors and directors have authority to authorize meeting and entertainment expenses for all units under their jurisdiction.
  • School of Medicine: Department chairs, directors of institutes and organized research units, associate vice chancellors for health sciences and administration, and the associate dean of administration have approval authority for meeting and entertainment expenses.
  • UC San Diego Medical Center: The director of the UC San Diego Medical Center has approval authority.

Special entertainment: Entertainment that has either exceeded the maximum entertainment allowance or involves special occasions or spouses/ partners/ family members requires approval from someone with official delegation. In general the following positions can approve:

  • Chancellor (in all instances)
  • Vice chancellors (within their areas)

Note: The chancellor must approve further delegation of authority to approve special entertainment. This requires a specific delegation letter and an Approval Authority for University Sponsored Special Entertainment form (PDF). Contact Policy and Records Administration for details.

Exceptions: Special entertainment differs from approval for exception to policy. Only the director of Disbursements and Travel can approve exceptions to policy.

Canceling approval authority

To cancel meeting and entertainment approval authority:

Approving entertainment

Once approval authority has been obtained, Standard and Special Entertainment approvers are added to the approval workflow within their Financial Unit. Approvers use Concur to review and approve catering requests and to review and approve expense reports.

Routing is automatic and determined by the Chart of Accounts that is listed on the Concur request/expense report and thereby drives the corresponding Financial Unit and Department approvals.

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Find answers, request services, or get help from our team at the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.

Notice: UC San Diego policy for meetings, entertainment, and hosted events, as published in Blink, is decisive. It has been adapted to UC San Diego's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, chart of accounts, and processing applications. The source is UC Expenditures for Business Meetings, Entertainment, and Other Occasions.