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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. If expenses exceed the maximum:

  • It is considered special entertainment, which must be approved at the appropriate level.
  • Include a written justification as to why higher costs were unavoidable and necessary to achieve the business purpose.
While the maximum may be exceeded on occasion, it can trigger a taxable event for the host/payee and guests depending on the circumstances and frequency. See tax issues below.
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:

  • Contact your department’s BUMT Administrator to remove the applicable approvers within the Business Unit Management Tool (BUMT), which drives the approval processes for Marketplace and MyPayments.

Approving entertainment

Once approval authority has been obtained, Standard and Special Entertainment approvers are added to the   within their Home Department, and any other BUMT Departments under their jurisdiction. Approvers use Marketplace to review and approve Marketplace invoices for catering purchase orders and MyPayments to review and approve non-contract payment requests.

Routing is automatic and determined by the index that is listed on the Marketplace invoice or MyPayments document and thereby drives the corresponding Business Unit and Department approvals:

index, business unit, department approver

Entertainment payment requests in Marketplace and MyPayments follow the same approval path. Depending on the event details, it might trigger Standard and/or Special Entertainment approval:

preparer requisitioner to Mypayments business unit approver to either Standard Entertainment Approver or Special Entertainment approver then to Travel and Entertainment team


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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.