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This release was issued under a previous government.
The expenses have been tabled publicly in Alberta’s Legislature Library.
“Albertans expect accountability on how their tax dollars are used,” said Premier Redford. “I want to personally demonstrate a new era of openness in government and feel it’s important to lead by example.”
The new disclosure requirements that come into effect today provide greater detail on travel, accommodation, meal and hospitality expenses. The policy applies to all Ministers and Associate Ministers and their political staff, members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, senior officials appointed by Order in Council and paid directly by government; and Deputy Ministers and executive managers in the Alberta Public Service. All expenses will be published online, along with full receipts - a policy that exceeds best practices and the standards every Albertan expects. The reports will be posted on a bi-monthly basis starting in December.
“This level of detail and oversight is the most comprehensive in Canada,” said Premier Redford. “Albertans must have confidence that the business of government is conducted with openness and transparency. This is my commitment to the people of Alberta.”
Public Disclosure of Travel and Expenses Policy
The purpose of this policy is to:
- improve accountability and transparency through routine disclosure of information on expenses reimbursed to elected and government officials;
- establish parameters for the proactive and routine disclosure of expense information; and
- enhance public confidence in the oversight of expenses incurred by elected and government officials.
Expenses are defined as costs and allowances incurred by an individual in the course of government business and include:
- travel, including transportation, accommodation, meals and incidentals; and
- hospitality and working sessions.
2. Application and Scope
Requirements to routinely disclose expense reports apply to the following individuals and those incurring expenses on these individuals’ behalf:
- Ministers, Associate Ministers and their political staff;
- Members of Government Caucus;
- Senior Officials appointed by an Order in Council and paid directly by the Government of Alberta;
- Deputy Ministers; and
- Alberta Public Service employees in the executive manager classes.
Routine disclosure of expense reports:
- demonstrates commitment to enhanced transparency and accountability in government and to taxpayers;
- promotes integrity in government;
- provides equal and timely access to expense information; and
- furthers the principles of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with respect to proactive release of information.
4. Expense Report Requirements
Expense reports must, at a minimum, include the following components:
- name and position of individual who incurred the expense;
- date of transaction(s);
- transaction amount(s);
- expense category (travel, including transportation, accommodation, meals and incidentals; and hospitality);
- description and rationale;
- supporting documentation (receipts).
Information that would normally be withheld under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, such as personal information,must be redacted from supporting documentation and will not be publicly disclosed.
Expense reports must be posted online.
Reports for reimbursed expenses will be made available online on a bi-monthly basis, within 10 business days past the 1st of the month.
Expense reports will be generated directly from government financial systems to demonstrate integrity and authenticity of disclosed information.
This policy will be brought into effect by a Treasury Board Directive
Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Policy
The purpose of this policy is:
- To provide a framework of accountability to guide the effective oversight of public resources in the reimbursement of expenses.
- To set out rules and principles for the reimbursement of expenses to ensure fair and reasonable practices.
- To set the parameters for the public disclosure of information about expenses.
Application and Scope
This policy sets out the rules for managing travel, meal and hospitality expenses for the Government of Alberta. They apply to:
- Ministers’ and Associate Ministers’ Offices, including Ministers, Chiefs of Staff, Press Secretaries and all other support staff;
- Members of Government Caucus;
- Senior Officials appointed by an Order in Council and paid directly by the Government of Alberta; and
- Deputy Ministers and all public service employees.
This policy applies to all expenses incurred in the course of government business by the above individuals for travel, meal, hospitality and other incidental expenses regardless of how the expense has been paid or is being reimbursed. This policy applies to reimbursements through ExClaim!, and purchases on government issued procurement cards and credit cards, related to the above activities.
The following definitions apply for the purpose of this policy:
- Each of the above form part of what is considered government.
- Claimant refers to any person making a claim under the terms of this policy.
- Approver refers to the person with the authority to make approvals under this policy.
- Taxpayer dollars are to be used prudently and responsibly with a focus on accountability and transparency.
- Expenses for travel, meals and hospitality support government business objectives.
- Plans for travel, meals, accommodation and hospitality are necessary and economical with due regard for health and safety.
- Only legitimate authorized expenses incurred during the course of government business are reimbursed.
- Prior approval to incur expenses is obtained where appropriate.
3.0 MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS - GENERAL
- Alcohol cannot be claimed and will not be reimbursed as part of travel or meal expense.
- Written approval is required for the following before any arrangements are made.
- Hospitality over $600; and
- Working sessions over $1500
- Hospitality is only provided when the event involves participants from outside the government. Functions involving only people who work for the government (all those covered by this policy) are not considered hospitality functions.
- Expenses must be attributable, meaning expenses incurred by one individual on behalf of another, must be attributable for disclosure purposes to the individual for which those expenses were incurred.
4.0 MANAGERIAL DISCRETION
Managerial discretion must be informed by clear guidelines. For the purposes of this policy, managerial discretion is the administrative authority to make decisions and choices with a reasonable degree of flexibility, while maintaining compliance with this policy. There is no discretion to depart from the principles and mandatory requirements of this policy.
When exercising discretion, the rationale must be documented and filed with the claim.
Approvers are accountable for their decisions, which must be:
- subject to good judgment and knowledge of the situation;
- exercised in appropriate circumstances; and
- compliant with the principles and mandatory requirements set out in this policy.
When a request arises and discretion needs to be exercised, approvers should consider whether the request is:
- able to stand up to scrutiny by the auditors and members of the public;
- properly explained and documented;
- reasonable; and
It is the responsibility of both the approver and the claimant to work out appropriate arrangements that would meet the test of being fair and equitable.
Only Treasury Board Committee can grant an exemption from all or part of this policy. Ministries can apply for an exemption by bringing forward a business case to Treasury Board Committee.
5.0 TRAVELS AND MEALS
Rules for travel expenses, meals and other items on expense claims are in the Public Service Subsistence, Travel and Moving Expenses Regulation.
Alcohol cannot be claimed and will not be reimbursed as part of a travel or meal expense. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Reasonable and appropriate meal expenses may be reimbursed. You may incur a meal expense when you are travelling on government business (in accordance with the Regulation).
You may also incur a meal expense as part of a working session (e.g., a business meeting within the office area that must occur over lunch). The Deputy Minister will approve all working sessions of $1,500 and above. The Deputy Minister can use managerial discretion to delegate the approval of working sessions below $1,500.
Detailed receipts for travel, meals (unless an allowance is being claimed) and other expenses should be included with the expense report. The receipt should itemize the purchases made including food and beverages consumed. If a detailed receipt is not available, the claimant must provide a written statement attesting to the following:
- the expense was incurred and related to Government of Alberta business;
- the expense has not been claimed previously; and
- the circumstances as to why the receipt is missing.
This attestation must be signed by claimant and the approver of the claim.
Economy class is the booking class for all domestic flights. If a medical condition necessitates upgraded travel, a physician’s order must be obtained prior to booking.
Personal upgrades can be used to upgrade to business class, or an employee may opt to pay personally for the price differential from coach class.
Business class may be booked for domestic or international flights of more than four (4) hours actual airtime. Security concerns and/or medical conditions may also warrant business class travel.
Employees may add and pay for a personal leg to a business itinerary, while clearly distinguishing between business and personal expenses. If a combined business/personal itinerary is equal to or less than the cost of a business-only return airfare, there is no personal cost to an employee.
7.0 GROUND AND TRANSPORTATION
Taxis are the preferred method of ground transportation. There is a recognition that there may be limited circumstance(s) where the use of a town car has a valid business purpose.
In a situation where a rental car is practical, an intermediate or smaller car is preferred, however, the size and type of rental car should be appropriate for the number of people in the car, road conditions, and nature of the need. In-car navigation systems and electronic toll payment (where appropriate) are reimbursable expenses but all other convenience options are non-reimbursable.
Tips are a reimbursable expense and should be appropriate to the location, service level and local protocol and are never to exceed 20% of the total bill.
9.0 MISCELLANEOUS REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES
- Laundry and dry cleaning when travel is longer than four consecutive nights.
- Internet connectivity in hotel, airplanes or other public places.
- Travel immunizations.
- Business visa (or equivalent) or expenses associated with obtaining a business visa or passport.
- Professional memberships where appropriate for the performance of the employees position (Law Society of Alberta, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professional Engineers, etc.).
What is “hospitality” for the purpose of this policy?
Hospitality is the provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities at public expense to people who are not engaged in work for the Government of Alberta.
Functions involving food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities and are only for people who work for the Government of Alberta are not considered hospitality functions. They are considered to be working sessions (see section 5.0 above).
Hospitality may be extended in an economical and consistent manner when:
- it can facilitate government business; and
- it is considered desirable as a matter of courtesy or protocol.
Expenses that do not fit the definition of government hospitality will not be reimbursed.
Prior written approval from a Minister or Deputy Minister is required for all hospitality events where alcohol will be served (see responsibilities regarding alcoholic beverages below), or for hospitality events of $600 or more.
When hospitality is appropriate
Hospitality may be extended on behalf of the government when:
- engaging in discussion of official public matters with, or sponsoring formal conferences for:
- representatives from other governments;
- publicly funded organizations;
- business and industry;
- public interest groups; or
- labour groups.
- providing people from national, international or charitable organizations with an understanding or appreciation of Alberta and the workings of its government;
- honouring distinguished people for exceptional public service in Alberta;
- conducting prestigious ceremonies for heads of state, government or distinguished guests from the private sector; and
- other hospitality functions as approved by the Minister or Deputy Minister, providing they conform to the rules listed in this section of the policy.
Responsibilities regarding alcoholic beverages
- Prior written approval is required from the Minister or Deputy Minister for hospitality events including alcohol or for $600 or more.
- Reimbursement of alcohol expenses is allowed only when the appropriate approvals are in place.
- Hospitality may include the consumption of alcohol at a meal or a reception with invitees as defined above, but only when there is an approved business case.
- If alcohol is provided at a hospitality event, it should be provided in a responsible manner, e.g. food must always be served when alcohol is available.
Planning the event
- Choose the location
- Use a government facility if there is one available and appropriate.
- If a government facility is not available and another is chosen, the Minister or Deputy Minister must provide prior approval.
- Minimize costs where possible, but have due regard for the nature, size and intended business purpose of the event.
Managing the guest list
- The host extending invitation:
- Must document and justify the list of government representatives;
- Keep the number of government representatives to a minimum, limiting it to those who have the most direct involvement in the business purpose of the event;
- May include the partner of the host or government representative only when required by protocol.
Submitting the claim for reimbursement
- All expenses must be documented and include original itemized receipts.
- The claim must include event details regarding:
- Type of hospitality (breakfast, lunch, dinner, reception, refreshments, etc.).
11.0 PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION
Information about expenses must comply with the Public Disclosure of Travel and Expenses Policy
The Deputy Minister shall submit a report of all events with total hospitality expenses paid of more than $600 to the Alberta Gazette for publication.
Report of Ministerial and MLA travel should be in accordance with the Reporting Policy for Ministerial and MLA Travel Outside of Canada.
Media inquiries may be directed to: