Carnegie Mellon University

Expense Report Preparation FAQs

The business purpose should include a very detailed description which states how the expense relates to university business.  A good business purposes should answer the following questions:

  • What does the expense represent?
  • Why does the expense relate to university business?
  • When did the expense occur?
  • Where did the expense occur?
  • Who was the expense for and what is their business relationship to the university?

While all of these questions may not apply to every business expenses, the information should be included when relevant.  

For meals, the purpose should include the names of all attendees (if 5 or fewer) or the number of attendees (if greater than 5) as well as the business topic that was discussed at the meeting.  For travel, the purpose should include the destination, dates of travel, and the specific business reason for the travel, such as the name of the conference attended. For supplies, the purpose should state what business the supplies will be used for and which department they will be used in.

All individuals requesting reimbursement or incurring business and travel expenses are required to scan and attach original receipts to substantiate their business expenses, except in the case of per diem reimbursements.  All single expenditures of $75 and greater need to be accompanied by original receipts.  If, in rare cases, original receipts are not available, a Missing Receipt Form must be completed. 

See the Expense Documentation section of the Business and Travel Expense Policy for additional information.

A non-employee expense report must be completed.  The non-employee expense report must document the relationship of the individual, clearly describe the business purpose of the expenses, include required supporting documentation, and is approved by the applicable department.

See the Visitors, Recruits, Independent Contractors, Consultants, Students, Courtesy Appointments and Other Non-Employees section of the Business and Travel Expense Policy for additional information.


To have an employee added to your delegate listing, you should complete the online form called the "Delegate Access Request" form and by clicking on Online Forms System.  This form is submitted online to the Financial Systems Help Desk for processing.  This same form is used for removing employees from your delegate list as well.

Using the expense type "Unallowable" is not a recommended default expense type for items that do not fit the options on the template pick list.  If the expense doesn't exactly fit in one of the expense types available, the expense type that is closest should be selected.  If you need further guidance, contact the Travel and Expense Reporting team at

To request the addition of an object code to the expense report template(s), you can send an email to the Travel and Expense Reporting team ( with what object code you believe should be added and a business reason as to why this should be added.  Once the request is received, the request will be routed for review and approval.  When/if the request is approved, the object code will be added to the appropriate template.

There are several reasons for why PTA strings may not be able to be used in creating an expense report.  These reasons include:

  • The Project, Task, or Award do not exist or the combination is invalid.
  • One of the segment values is end-dated, or outside the date range of the expense that is being allocated.
  • The PTA rolls up to a GL string that contains an org value that is outside the approvers signing limits.
  • A baselined budget does not exist for the PTA that is being used.
  • The task is "disabled" (this is a checkbox in the task section that can be clicked by key members).
The Expense Type/Expenditure Type is not acceptable on the PTA.