The Board believes that attendance at and participation in educational conferences and seminars that address issues related to the Board’s fiduciary duty and administrative responsibility for the management of the retirement system are an integral part of being a Board Member and employee. The Board encourages its Members and staff to attend educational conferences and seminars and perform due diligence in executing their duties to better serve the members of the retirement system.
Authorization for Travel and Travel Related Expenses
The Board grants prior approval to any Member or staff person who wishes to attend an educational conference or seminar, provided that said event is within the state and does not require overnight accommodations. These conferences can then be noted in the Board’s meeting minutes. Any other travel-related request must be approved by a majority of the Board Members present at the monthly Board meeting and shall be reflected in the minutes of the meeting at which the travel request is approved. Any brochures or written materials available regarding the educational conference or seminar, where available, should be attached to any travel request. In situations in which multiple Board Members and/or staff persons attend the same conference or seminar, it is only necessary that the Board be provided with one set of brochures or written materials. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within a reasonable time after the expenses are incurred no later than 30 days. Any travel-related expenditures which have not been properly documented or approved or are not in conformity with the Board’s regulations must be rejected or adjusted.
Documentation for Reimbursement
Board Members and staff persons shall be reimbursed for expenses incurred which are incidental and necessary to approved travel. Any request for reimbursement must be accompanied by an original receipt except for mileage reimbursement, which must be documented and will be reimbursed at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rate in effect at the time of travel. Reimbursement shall be made only to the person who actually made payment for the expense and any request for reimbursement shall be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within a reasonable time after the expenses are incurred, but no later than 30 days. Any travel-related expenditures which have not been properly documented or approved or are not in conformity with the Board’s regulations must be rejected or adjusted.
The Administrator shall be responsible for making all travel arrangements for Board Members and staff persons. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a Board Member may arrange for his/her own travel, provided that said travel has been approved by the Board consistent with these regulations. When making travel arrangements, business or government rates, where available, should be secured. In the event that a Board Member or staff person wishes to extend his/her stay beyond that which is authorized by the Board, any additional expenses incurred as a result of the extended stay shall be the responsibility of the Board Member or staff person. If, however, an extended stay results in an overall net savings to the retirement system, such a stay may be authorized.
The Board recognizes that various modes of transportation may be utilized dependent upon the destination and the travel habits of the Board Members and staff persons. Board Members and staff persons shall be reimbursed for the cost of transportation as noted herein. Board Members may travel to educational conferences and/or seminars via airline, train, bus or personal automobile. When traveling by airline, the Board Member or staff person book the lowest fare available, which shall not require more than one stop each way, which shall not require the Board Member or staff person to make more than one scheduled transfer between airplanes during any such trip and which shall have reasonable departure and arrival times. When traveling by personal automobile, the Board Member or staff person shall be reimbursed for mileage consistent with approved IRS regulations; provided, however, that is the cost for airline transportation and/or rental car, where appropriate, is less than the cost of the reimbursement for mileage, the Board Member’s or staff person’s reimbursement shall be limited to the cost of airline transportation and/or rental car. Payment of airline club memberships by the Board is strictly prohibited.
The Board shall determine on a case-by-case basis, whether a rental car is necessary and beneficial to any particular Board related travel. Any rental cars utilized must be from a national rental agency. The Administrator or Board Member shall negotiate the rental rate for the car. The Board shall reimburse the Board Member and/or staff person at the so-called “mid-size” vehicle rate, although the Board Member and/or staff person shall accept the optional insurance coverage for any rental vehicle and he/she shall be reimbursed for said expense. Any motor vehicle accidents which occur while using a rental car on Board-approved travel must be reported as soon as practicable and in writing to the proper authorities. Copies of any reports and/or documents filed in relation to said motor vehicle accident must also be filed with the Board. The Board Member and/or staff person is personally responsible for any fines or other expenses related to traffic violations associated with Board travel. All reasonable parking fees and tolls associated with Board-related travel shall be reimbursed.
All reservations for hotel accommodations should be made in advance, utilizing the most reasonable rate available. If the Board Member or staff person is traveling with another person, any increase in cost for accommodations associated with the additional person shall not be the boards’ responsibility. The cost for any extended stay beyond what is authorized will not be reimbursed by the Board. In a situation in which the cost for lodging is part of the registration fee for the conference or educational seminar, then the Board will not reimburse a Board Member or staff person for lodging. If the cost of lodging is separate and distinct from the registration fee for the conference or seminar, the Board shall reimburse the Board Member and/or staff person for the cost of said lodging at the most reasonable room rate. If the Board Member and/or staff person elects alternative lodging at a cite not designated by the conference or seminar, the Board shall reimburse the Board Member and/or staff person in an amount that is reasonable rate as incorporated in the registration fee.
Board Members and staff persons who attend educational seminars and/or conferences shall be reimbursed for the cost of meals upon production of the appropriate receipts. The maximum daily reimbursable amount for meals shall not exceed $100. If Board-related travel is to a high-cost location, the Board may review on a case-by-case basis any requests for reimbursement beyond the $100 limit and may reimburse Board Members and staff persons at its sole discretion, for daily meal expenditures in excess of $100. In no event shall any Board Member or staff person be reimbursed for the cost of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, snacks and entertainment. If reimbursement for meal expenses are sought by a Board Member or staff person for the payment of a meal of a third party or parties related to a business meeting, the individual or individuals must be identified along with their affiliation. Such third party reimbursement for meals shall only be authorized in a situation in which the meal was part of a business meeting.
In a situation in which the cost of meals are included as part of the registration fee for a conference or seminar, a Board Member or staff person shall not be reimbursed for meals which are part of said package. The Board recognizes that certain educational conferences and/or seminars include the cost of some, but not all, meals. In this situation, a Board member or staff person shall be reimbursed as identified in the preceding paragraph for meals not included in the registration fee.
A Board Member or staff person may seek reimbursement for miscellaneous expenses included but not limited to gratuities paid in accordance with local custom, telephone expenses limited to Board or business related calls, one personal telephone call per day, internet connections, charges for faxing and costs associated with the reproduction of documents. With respect to the one personal call per day limit, a Board Member or staff person who needs to utilize the telephone for an emergency related to an immediate family member may be reimbursed, at the Board’s sole discretion, for additional calls. For the purpose of the preceding sentence, and “immediate family member” shall be limited to the grandparent, parent, spouse, child or sibling of the Board Member or staff person seeking the reimbursement. A Board Member or staff person shall not be reimbursed for personal expenses associated with travel, such as in-room movies, mini-bar charges, gym fees, entertainment or recreational expenses, laundry and dry cleaning or any payments for personal services except in such circumstances as the Board deems appropriate and necessary.
Board Credit Card
The Retirement Administrator has authorization to use credit card to make travel arrangements. Credit card bills must be submitted to the retirement office. The Retirement Administrator must provide receipts for all expenses included in the statement. If receipts are not provided, the user will immediately reimburse the Board for these expenses. Credit cards are not to be used to purchase supplies or other items that the Board, the Board Members or staff use on a regular basis and which can be readily anticipated and purchased by way of a competitive process. Personal use of a board credit card is strictly prohibited.
Cash Advances/Per Diem
Board Members and/or staff persons shall not receive any cash advances or preset per diem payments associated with anticipated travel-related expenses.
Personal Travel Combined with Board Related Travel
Any personal travel by a Board Member or staff person which is combined with Board-related travel must be clearly identified and paid for by the Board Member or staff person who undertakes said travel. Travel expenses incurred by any individual, other than an approved Board Member or staff person, who accompanies the Board Member or staff person shall be considered personal travel and in no event shall be reimbursed by the Board as previously noted in these regulations, if the combination of personal travel and Board-related travel result in a net savings to the Board, due to a cost reduction in either transportation or lodging, then the costs of transportation and/or lodging associated with said personal travel shall be reimbursed by the Board.
Payments or Reimbursements for Expenses by Third Parties
A Board Member or staff person is strictly prohibited from accepting or receiving anything directly or indirectly of substantial value from any person, firm, partnership or other entity, directly or “indirectly,” which may be reason ably expected to seek to do business with or is seeking to do business with or presently is doing business with the Board or any person, firm or other entity that solicits or makes referrals or which may be reasonably expected to solicit or make referrals of any client on behalf of such a person, firm, partnership or other entity.
If a Board Member of staff person has been invited to speak at an educational conference or seminar and it is the common practice of the educational conference or seminar to have outside speakers address the conference or seminar and the presentation by the Board Member or staff person is formally scheduled to appear on the conference or seminar agenda and the Board approves said travel, then the Board may accept reimbursements from a third party to cover the necessary travel related costs of such speaking engagements. The presentation cannot be perfunctory. A Board Member or staff person may not receive an honorarium or any other form of compensation for speaking at an educational conference or seminar.
Violation of These Guidelines or Board Travel Regulations
The Commission will review all circumstances pertaining to travel in accordance with the provisions of these Guidelines.
Any person or entity that violates these Guidelines or Retirement Board regulations adopted pursuant to these Guidelines and approved by the Commission to these Guidelines and approved by the Commission shall be deemed to have violated the provisions of 840 CMR 17.00 and shall be subject to removal as a qualified investment manager or consultant pursuant to 840 CMR 17.04(10). In addition, the Commission shall not grant an exemption pursuant to 840 CMR 19.02 or a qualification pursuant to 840 CMR 26.04 if any person or entity that has violated these Guidelines or Retirement Board regulations adopted pursuant to these Guidelines is the subject of the filing pursuant to those provisions.