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Noteworthy Policies: Conflict of Interest
As part of the performance of official functions, each AREF employee is subject to Federal Conflicts of Interest. Each employee shall sign a “Standards of Ethical Conduct and Related Responsibilities of Employees” at the beginning of their work with the Foundation.
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Policies & Procedures


Travel Policies & Procedures

Foundation funds may be used to support domestic or foreign travel expenses to bona fide scientific meetings or for other research and/or educational conferences, seminars, etc. Travel charged to a research account must be limited to purposes that relate to that project account’s research activity.

Local Travel
Attendance at meetings or other research and/or educational conferences, seminars, etc that occurs within the Atlanta Metropolitan area is considered local travel. Local travel is a change in work site only. Parking and mileage to and from the workplace to the meeting site, as well as conference and registration fees, are the only reimbursable expenses allowed for local travel. Meals are not reimbursed. Reimbursement for mileage will be made only when the distance to the alternate site exceeds the distance from residence to work. A Request for Travel / Conference Funds must be submitted whenever there are costs associated with the meeting. All employees on local travel who are required to submit a Request for Travel / Conference Funds are responsible for requesting administrative absence in the Foundation's time and attendance system hosted by ADP. Employees must also enter a brief description of the local travel in the COMMENTS field of their timecard next to the appropriate date(s) of the local travel.

Travel for educational activities not related to research must support the training and education mission of the VA.

Forms are to be completed/submitted a minimum of 4 weeks prior to travel.

A. Non-AREF Funded Travel Requests

Travel funded by an outside source must relate to the VA R&D approved project for which an AREF employee works. The Request for Administrative Absence for Non-AREF Funded Travel must be submitted and approved before travel can commence. The following must be attached to the Request for Administrative Absence for Non-AREF Funded Travel:

1.   a copy of program material (i.e. program agenda, syllabus, etc.) or meeting documents (email correspondence, invitation, etc.)
2.   a copy of the abstract/paper, (which acknowledges the VA and/or Foundation), and the acceptance letter, If making a presentation.

Once approved, the employee is responsible for requesting administrative absence (AA) leave in the Foundation's time and attendance system hosted by ADP. Enter travel information in COMMENTS function of the timecard. This confirms you are on official work detail for insurance purposes.

B. Request for Travel Funds: is to be used to reserve funds in the grant account. Current per diem travel rates can be found at: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287

Administrative Absence:

For Foundation employees:
You are responsible for requesting administrative absence (AA) leave in the Foundation's time and attendance system hosted by ADP. Enter travel information in COMMENTS function of the timecard. This confirms you are on official work detail for insurance purposes.

For VA employees:
All Foundation supported travel for VA employees must be pre-approved in accordance with the appropriate policies of the Veterans’ Health Administration (a request for authorized absence). This approval allows VA salaried employees to travel on Authorized Leave.

You are responsible for completing VA Form 0893 “Advance Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official Travel” if you plan to use “Authorized Absence” to attend any meeting.

Attach a copy of your travel orders to the Foundation Travel Request form if you are receiving government travel orders OR a printout of Approved Leave (Vista) if you are not receiving government travel orders.

The following must be attached to the Request for Travel Funds form:

1.   a copy of program material (i.e. program agenda, syllabus, etc.) or meeting documents (email correspondence, invitation, etc.)
2.   a copy of the abstract/paper, (which acknowledges the VA and/or Foundation), and the acceptance letter, If making a presentation.

C. Registration/Conference Fees: For the Foundation to pay registration fees directly, check the “yes” box by Registration on the Request for Travel form. You must include a completed registration form and submit the entire travel packet at least two (2) weeks prior to any registration deadline with the deadline date noted on the request form.

D. Airline Reservations: If you would like the Foundation to make your airline reservations directly, the preferred itinerary must be submitted along with acceptable time ranges for each direction of travel. AREF will try to accommodate your preferences. AREF will also need your full legal name as it appears on your state issued I.D. and your birthdate.

NOTE: Persons traveling on Foundation funds may not use government rate airfares. All Foundation paid airfare will be purchased at the basic coach rate. If you make changes to your ticket and there is a fee associated with this change, you and/or your project will be charged for the change(s). Generally, the cost of air travel is reduced with a Saturday overnight stay. If you can document that the cost for the hotel/per diem for the extra day is equal to or less than the difference in air travel with the Saturday overnight stay, you may be approved to take advantage of this option.

E. Cash Advances: will be granted in very rare instances based on need, generally to cover the ME&I (Meals & Incidentals) per diem. If you request an advance that exceeds the cumulative per diem, you must also attach a hardship justification. 

F.   Following return from travel: ALL travelers must complete and submit a Travel Justification/Expense Reimbursement Form with original receipts attached for all items (including those prepaid by the Foundation). Travel reimbursement packets should be submitted to AREF no later than two weeks after the travel has been completed.

AREF has an accountable plan for its travel program. Each travel expense must be justified and balanced before the travel order can be closed. The Travel Justification/Expense Reimbursement Form requires an accounting of all expenses related to the travel; pre-paid items, those paid by the VA, and those paid by the traveler, even if the net result is zero reimbursement to the traveler.  This form is also used to determine if there was any overpayment of funds related to the travel, which must be returned to AREF.

G. Reimbursements take approximately 2 weeks to process once all necessary documents are received by the AREF office.

H. International Travel: All intended international travel should be reported to the Foundation as soon as possible.

INFORMATION/REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIC TO EMPLOYEES WORKING AT CDC

  1. All expenditure requests must relate to a specific research project which has been approved by the VA Research & Development (R&D) Committee, not research in general.

  2. The VA Science Information Office assigns a project number after all approvals, including the appropriate IRB approvals, have been secured. These numbers will now be required in your requests along with the AREF assigned project number (not IAA number).

  3. A written justification that addresses the reason for the travel, including the benefits or impact to the project for all travel, both Domestic and International, is required.  If Human Subject contact or data collection is involved, a copy of the IRB approval must be included with the request.

  4. International Travel must have CDC approval by the same individuals that approve travel for CDC employees. These individuals should sign (title included) the justification to be submitted along with the PI’s signature.

  5. Travel Requests must be submitted at least four (4) weeks in advance if no registration or airline reservations are to be completed by the AREF office. If registration is requested, the request must be submitted at least two (2) weeks before the early registration deadline.

  6. Each Travel Request will be reviewed by the Budget and Compliance Specialist to verify project appropriateness before submitting to the Executive Director for final approval.

  7. If an AREF employee is self-registering, AREF must be included in their Company/Affiliation along with CDC.

  8. If an abstract, based on the findings of the project has been accepted for presentation at a conference, a copy of the abstract must be submitted with the request.

  9. The VA or Foundation must be acknowledged on the abstract, the poster and/or during the presentation.

  10. Expenditures made before a request has received approval by the appropriate AREF official, may not be reimbursed if the travel request is not approved.

INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO NON-EXEMPT AREF EMPLOYEES

OVERNIGHT TRAVEL – In general, whether travel time counts as hours worked when an employee travels overnight, depends on whether the travel occurs within the employee’s normal work schedule. Travel time that occurs within the employee’s normal work schedule is compensable.

COMPENSABLE

  • Any portion of authorized travel that occurs within an employee’s normal work schedule counts as hours worked. Travel on non-work days (like weekends) also counts as hours worked if it occurs within the employee’s normal work schedule.
  • If an employee is required to attend meals, social events, etc., that time is counted as hours worked.
  • Time spent waiting at the airport counts as hours worked if it occurs within normal work hours.
  • Any work while traveling, which an employee is required to perform, is counted as hours worked (e.g., answering e-mails, taking business related phone calls.)

NON-COMPENSABLE

  • Regular meal periods do not count as hours worked.
  • Riding as a passenger outside of normal work hours, via airplane, train, boat, bus or automobile does not count as hours worked. In other words, the act of riding as a passenger is not considered work.
  • Time spent sleeping does not count as hours worked.
  • Time spent waiting at the airport outside of normal work hours does not count as hours worked.
  • Travel between home and work or between hotel and worksite is considered normal commuting time and does not count as hours worked.
The US Department of Labor does not treat any time spent in travel away from home which is outside regular working hours if the employee is a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus or in an automobile as compensable work time.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, AREF is not prohibited from arranging the employee's travel schedule outside normal working time. AREF retains the right to approve, modify or disapprove non-exempt travel requests.

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