|(a) General travel information will be maintained on the comptroller's Web site. The information will include procedures, as provided in this rule, Government Code, Chapter 660, and the General Appropriations Act; examples; guidelines that will help support the travel expense reimbursement process for state agencies. Procedures, amounts, timing, limits, required documentation, permissible payees, distinctions among different types of state employees, or any other details concerning travel expense payments or reimbursements by a state agency are governed by Government Code, Chapter 660, the General Appropriations Act, and the rules adopted by the comptroller under Government Code, Chapter 660. (b) Eligible expenses. A travel expense must be incurred before it is eligible for reimbursement. (1) For lodging and transportation expenses, proof of payment must be documented to validate that the expenses were actually incurred. (2) A state employee who receives free transportation or lodging in exchange for points or other non-monetary credits has not incurred an expense for reimbursement purposes. (c) Erroneous processing and erroneous vouchers. (1) A state agency or a state employee may not seek reimbursement of a travel expense that the agency or employee knows or reasonably should know is not reimbursable. (2) The comptroller's omission of a particular travel expense reimbursement as erroneous during a post-payment audit does not prevent the comptroller from designating a similar reimbursement as erroneous in a subsequent audit. (d) Meal and lodging expenses. (1) A state employee may be reimbursed for meal and/or lodging expenses that are incurred on a day that the employee conducts state business. The reimbursement is limited to the rates set forth in the General Appropriations Act. The reimbursement limit applies without a carry-over from one day to another. (2) Meal and lodging expenses incurred at a duty point the night before state business begins are reimbursable. (3) Meal and lodging expenses incurred more than one night before state business begins are not reimbursable unless traveling to the duty point reasonably requires more than one day or the expenses are incurred to qualify for a discount airfare. (e) Apartment or house rental expenses. (1) An apartment or house rental expense may be reimbursed if: (A) the purpose of the rental is the conservation of state funds; and (B) the agency reasonably anticipates that the employee will be using the apartment or house while conducting state business throughout the term of the lease. (2) Application fees and other mandatory costs associated with applying for rental of the apartment or house are reimbursable. (f) Other reimbursable expenses. (1) In accordance with Government Code, §660.141, a state employee may be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred while staying extra days at a duty point to qualify for a discount airfare. Such expenses may be reimbursed only if: (A) the amount of the reimbursement plus the amount of the discount is less than the average coach airfare or the contracted airfare; and (B) the employing agency determines that the employee's absence for the extra days is not detrimental to the agency. (2) Incidental expenses. (A) Pursuant to Government Code, §660.002, a state employee or legislator is entitled to be reimbursed for incidental expenses when they are incurred for a state business reason. (B) Examples of reimbursable incidental expenses include, but are not limited to: mandatory charges or mandatory service charges; telephone calls; toll charges; parking charges; repair charges for a state-owned vehicle; postage; passport or visa charges required for foreign travel; and currency exchange fees. (C) Tips or gratuities and excess baggage charges for personal belongings are not reimbursable expenses. (g) Mileage. (1) Amount of mileage reimbursement. (A) The mileage reimbursement rate is established by the legislature in the General Appropriations Act. (B) With the exception of tolls and parking expenses, the mileage reimbursement rate is inclusive of all expenses associated with the operation of the employee's personal vehicle. (2) Determination of reimbursable mileage. (A) The number of miles traveled by an employee for state business may be determined by point-to-point itemization. (B) Point-to-point mileage may be documented by an employee's vehicle odometer reading or by a readily available electronic mapping service such as MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, satellite-based navigation systems, etc., as determined by each agency, institution of higher education, or other entity required to comply with Government Code, Chapter 660. (h) Travel advance accounts. (1) A state agency may establish an account for advancing funds to a state employee for the employee's projected travel expenses. (2) A state agency that declines to establish a travel advance account may not make travel advances. (3) A travel advance account may not be used for any purpose other than to make travel advances. (4) A state agency may not issue a travel advance to: (A) a prospective state employee; (B) an employee of another state agency unless the employee will be providing services to the agency issuing the travel advance; or (C) a person who is not a state employee, including a commercial transportation company, a commercial lodging establishment, a credit card issuer, and a travel agency. (5) The comptroller may not reimburse the travel advance account of a state agency for a travel advance to a state employee who at the time of the advance had been properly reported to the comptroller as being indebted to the state. (6) Under and over advances. (A) If a state employee received a travel advance that is less than the reimbursable expenses incurred, the employing state agency may reimburse the employee for the difference. (B) If an employee received a travel advance that is greater than the reimbursable expenses incurred, then the employee shall promptly reimburse the account for the difference. (7) A travel advance account may not be reimbursed for a travel expense that would not have been reimbursed if the account had not been used. (i) Voucher and documentation requirements. (1) The comptroller requires supporting information and/or documentation to be included on a voucher prior to submission for payment. (2) Supporting documentation must be sufficient to detail the expenses claimed. Supporting documentation requirements apply to a travel expense that is paid directly and to a travel expense reimbursement made by an agency. The information or documentation required changes periodically; however, it generally includes the following: documentation of employee's headquarters, required itemizations, purpose of trip, and required receipts. (j) Audits conducted by the comptroller. (1) Under Government Code, §660.028, the comptroller is required to periodically audit travel vouchers submitted for payment either before or after the comptroller issues a warrant or initiates an electronic funds transfer in response to the voucher. These audits and examinations assist the comptroller's office in determining whether: (A) the expenses were reasonable and necessary; (B) the purpose of travel clearly involved state business and was consistent with the agency's legal authority; (C) the travel conducted and expenses incurred complied with the Travel Regulations Act, comptroller rules, travel provisions of the General Appropriations Act, the Texas Procurement and Support Services contract requirements, and policies and procedures adopted by the comptroller's office; and (D) the number of individuals traveling for the same or a similar purpose was necessary to perform state business. (2) The comptroller may question the fiscal responsibility of a payment even if it is technically legal.