University Policy on Hospitality Expenses; Supercedes EM 01-016

Executive Memorandum 09-007

July 01, 2009

From: Paul J. Zingg, President

Subject: University Policy on Hospitality Expenses; Supercedes EM 01-016



It is the policy of California State University, Chico to make payment of hospitality expenses from university funds when consistent with the mission and fiduciary responsibilities of the university.  Hospitality expenses may include the provision of meals (catered or restaurant), refreshments, promotional materials, gifts, awards, honoraria, or travel expenses of official guests.  This policy defines when such expenses are permitted from university funding sources, including the state general fund (now the CSU Operating Fund), and other university-controlled funds (Enterprise Funds, IRA, Miscellaneous Trust, etc), and University Foundation (Research Foundation or University Foundation) funds.  In all cases, hospitality expenses must be directly related or associated with the active conduct of official university business, be cost effective, be in accordance with the best use of public or foundation project funds, and in conformance with IRS regulations.



Something of value, usually tangible personal property, given or bestowed upon an individual, group, or entity in recognition of service or achievement directly benefiting the university


Something of value given or bestowed upon an individual (not CSU Chico employee), group, or entity with the expectation of benefit accruing to the university


A payment given as a token of thanks and appreciation (e.g., guest speaker honorarium)

Official Guest

An individual invited by an official university host to attend a university meeting, conference, reception, or event.  Examples of official guests include employees from other campuses or the Chancellor’s Office, members of the community, or media representatives.  Employees from various departments of the Chico campus, or CSU Chico students are not considered official guests. 

Official Host

A university employee who hosts a meeting, conference, reception, or event

Promotional Materials

A gift of tangible property that is distributed to provide information and/or promote the name or image of the university.  Promotional items are not intended for CSU Chico employees. 

Expenses and Events

The types of expenses and events which may be supported by university and/or foundation funds are identified on Attachment A and as deemed appropriate and administratively wise.

Caterers and Other Food Providers

Non-campus individuals or businesses providing food for campus events will be required to provide the following in advance of the event:

  • A copy of their current Butte County Department of Health license/permit if in the Butte County Department of Health “caterer” classification
  • A copy of a “Food Safety Training” certificate if in the Butte County Department of Health “cook for hire” classification; such training certification is to have been within twelve  months preceding the event; certification is to be provided by the Butte County Department of Health, or similar agency offering State-approved training/testing on food safety; for the first year of this policy, food providers in this category shall be allowed to provide food for campus events without the certification, but must obtain the certification within one year of the policy effective date

In addition, all caterers and food providers will be required to provide evidence of coverage to meet current campus insurance requirements in advance of the event.  These requirements, specified by the University Risk Management Department, are located on web site


Meals supported under this policy shall be an integral part of the event and not solely a matter of personal convenience.  Formal business should continue through the meal time if meals are provided as part of a meeting. Fees collected from conference attendees specifically for the event should be deposited in the CSU Operating Fund, appropriate auxiliary organization, or enterprise fund to pay for the hospitality expenses incurred. 

To provide for consistency in the planning and review of hospitality events and costs, especially in the context of limited State resources and declining budgets, the amount of money spent on meals for employees should not exceed the maximum daily meal allowance as prescribed in the CSU, Chico Travel Procedures Manual.  Current rates can be found at the following link

Meals provided for employee recruitment/interviews should be limited to a select number of campus personnel (e.g. search committee member(s), key department personnel) .

Total costs of events, including the number participants, should be reasonable and justifiable programmatically and financially, particularly when weighing alternative uses of State funds.  Departments are responsible for keeping and maintaining a list of all attendees and other supporting documents.


Hospitality expense requests funded by any university-controlled funds are to be submitted and approved by Procurement and Contract Services in advance of the event or purchase to every extent possible.  In all cases, events catered by off-campus caterers must be pre-approved.  Reimbursements will be allowed for expenses meeting the criteria for permitted expenses when it is impracticable to obtain advance approval (e.g., meals at restaurants with interviewees).   

Procedures and approval forms for submittal of hospitality expenses related to university-controlled funds are located at web site:

Procedures and forms for submittal of foundation hospitality expenses are located at web site:


All hospitality expense requests (meals, refreshments, promotional items, etc) shall be signed by the appropriate vice president or provost or their designee.  Designees must be named in writing by the appropriate vice president or provost.  No individuals may approve their own expenses and individuals may not approve the expenses of their supervisor.  The individual approving the request must evaluate whether the event/expense serves a clear university business purpose, is consistent with the mission of the University, is cost effective, and is in accordance with the best use of public or foundation project funds.

Annual Reports

The Procurement and Contract Services department shall provide an annual report to Cabinet, by September 30 of each year, which summarizes the hospitality expense activity for each Vice Presidential area.

Attachment:  Attachment A (pdf) – Hospitality Expenditures Definitions, and Appropriate Fund Usage