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Incidental Expenses

About this Policy

Incidental Expenses

Policy Number: 26401

Effective Date:
Dec 12, 2017

Last Updated:

Responsible Office:
UM System Supply Chain

Responsible Administrator:
Chief Procurement Officer

Policy Contact:

Campus Accounting Office


  • Finance

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This policy covers the purchase of items that are incidental to the mission of the University and can be paid for with University Administered Funds.

Reason for Policy

To ensure that appropriate approval and documented justification is provided for incidental expenditures purchased with University Administered Funds. Each campus may institute more restrictive policies regarding unallowable expenditures than those that appear below.

Policy Statement

When there is a documented business reason, expenditures of University administered funds can be made for items listed below with approval from the President, Vice President, Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellor, Hospital Chief Executive Officer, or designee, unless others are specified.

Each purchase must be a suitable expenditure for the funding source used and must be within the scope of any donor, agency, or other restrictions on the use of the funds, including grant restrictions.  

  • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Related to the promotion of the interest of the University. An attestation or written statement explaining that the expenditure benefits the University must be shown on each transaction that request payment of, or reimbursement for, alcoholic beverages.
  • Flowers
    • Purchased for official University events or public relations activities for a legitimate business purpose.
  • Personal Convenience Items
    • Used for public purpose in lunch rooms, common areas, or public areas.
  • Holiday Decorations and Functions
    • Purchased decorations for commonly accessed public areas and exterior grounds only
    • Holiday parties or similar social events when there is a documented business purpose
  • Greeting Cards
    • For external public relations purposes only (i.e. donors, community leaders, and friends of the University)
  • Recognition Events (limited basis)
    • Farewell or employment anniversary receptions for full and part-time employees who, retire, resign, or transfer internally, or have achieved a significant employment milestone. See Related Information for link to information regarding retirement gifts.
      • These receptions must have the approval of the Dean, Director, Department Chair, or an administrative superior
    • Student and/or community events are allowed if involvement has made a significant impact on the University
    • Excludes personal related events such as birthdays, wedding anniversary, etc.
  • Charitable Contributions or Events
    • Allowed only when it is in the best interests of the University
    • Auxiliary enterprise operations may make non-monetary contributions when the operation determines there is a business benefit from doing so
    • Donations of equipment to outside organizations or to individuals are not allowed without the approval from Surplus Property
    • Political contributions are not allowed.
  • Clothing
    • Provide clothing to personnel who have a business need for them
  • Tickets to Events
    • Purchase of tickets or other items of value that will be given away as part of a program must be kept secure while in the possession of the University.  Recipients of the tickets should be tracked with the event name, date of event, and date dispersed.

The justification must be documented, and receive appropriate approval. The request to be approved should state the date or time period of the expenditure(s), the estimated amount(s), and the justification. A copy of the approved request should be filed with the source documentations for the expenditure.

When a purchase or payment includes both a personal portion and a University portion, the payment can be made through University processes if the University portion is more than 50% of the total cost and it is more efficient for the University to process in this manner. The employee must reimburse the University for the personal portion at the same time the University portion is processed for payment.


University Administered Funds - unrestricted or restricted funds held by the University. 



  • Obtain approvals for the purchase of incidental items
  • Periodically review incidental purchases for adherence to policy
  • Work with employees that have a split purchase between personal use and the University to obtain reimbursement to the University


  • Reimburse the University for any incidental expenses in which a portion of the expense is for personal use

Additional Details



Related Information

Retirement gifts are addressed in Policy 22307 on Awards, Gifts & Prizes


Formerly Business Policy Manual 217 – Incidental Expenses (revised 8/1/2004)


Reviewed 2017-12-06