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Center On Health Disparities

CoHD Policies and Procedures


Office Policies and Procedures



The Center on Health Disparities (CoHD) Office exists to insure informed purchasing decisions are made to improve procurement effectiveness by providing purchasing guidelines and advice to faculty, staff and scholars. Schools or departments may, at their discretion, impose greater control than required by VCU travel.  The constraints of these policies may be more stringent as we are funded primarily by grants.



  • To support the academic, administrative and operational activities of the Center on Health Disparities by providing resources for the purchase of quality goods and services which meet University standards.
  • To negotiate favorable terms, conditions and pricing, and to arrange for delivery when and where needed.
  • To monitor compliance with budget requests and resolve discrepancies.
  • To contribute to the financial wellness of the University and Center by practicing careful and diligent management of purchases and assets through the active participation in planning and implementation of sound financial and ethical decisions.



The CoHD accomplishes its mission by carrying out its duties and responsibilities through:

  • obtaining budget request prior to making arrangements in order to realize maximum value from the expenditure of CoHD funds in the purchase of materials and services;
  • coordinating the purchase of materials and services for all functions of the CoHD;
  • providing value added services to the CoHD by constantly striving to find new and better products, sources of supply, and better ways of meeting the needs of the requestor;
  • maintaining liaisons with the vendors that service the University;
  • developing department purchasing standards based upon value analysis, economies of scale, total acquisition costs, and budget limitations;
  • assisting Requestor in locating substitute materials in cases of emergencies, material shortages, strikes, or other external circumstances;
  • protecting the CoHD against unfair or unethical trade practices and unrealistic or exorbitant price increases; and
  • expediting, when requested and warranted, the delivery of goods and services.
  • Budget Request Form
  • Purchasing Reminders 2



The University has contracted several suppliers who are a valuable resource of information on products and services.  The Center on Health Disparities Office should be your first resource.   You should never promise vendors and/or students payment for any goods or services that are not submitted on a pre-approved budget request.  The Center on Health Disparities Office advises the following guidelines:

  • advise the Center Office in advance of through the submission of a budget request.  The staff can help by providing information on qualified suppliers;
  • in the event that a budget request needs to be amended, please submit the amended request and reference the original request (attach a copy, reference the date, reference event, etc.);
  • never give a vendor or scholar any information on budget allocations;
  • be prepared to discuss all aspects of your budget request;
  • guard against overreaction to a request created crisis. For instance, "The price is going up after the first of the month"; "This is the last one in stock and I can't guarantee it won't be sold", "I need a purchase order to insure we schedule production" or “I must have this for my presentation”;
  • do not agree to prices and terms.  The office staff needs an opportunity to evaluate or negotiate a fair price if needed; and
  • do not appear to commit the Center by telling a salesperson that he or she will be able to make a purchase.  Only a signed budget request can commit the Center.



The CoHD will ensure that travel costs are:

  • directly work related;
  • obtained at the most economical price;
  • allowable per State/University travel policies and procedures;
  • both critical and necessary for state business; and
  • the CoHD reserves the right to schedule arrival and departure dates to accommodate Center related business travel.  Our responsibility lies only within center travel dates.

 The CoHD will exercise prudent judgement in approving travel-related costs and established an effective system for management and control over travel-related costs with:

  • written internal policies and procedures;
  • authorization or approval of travel costs by authorized designee (Fiscal Administrator);
  • clearly defined roles and responsibility to which department head responsibility has been delegated; and
  • the Center on Health Disparities may be stricter on travel than the Office of Procurement and Payment as there are certain requirements for payment made by restricted funds.


Travelers should:

  • be familiar and comply with State, University and CoHD travel policies and procedures before embarking on travel;
  • always obtain prior authorization;
  •  select travel alternative that is allowable per the State, University and department travel policies and procedures;
  • select travel options that are most economical;
  • exercise same care in incurring expenses and accomplishing the purposes of the travel that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business; excess costs, circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official state business travel are not acceptable;
  • pay any excess costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience as well as verify that all travel arrangements are confirmed prior to departure;
  • return as promptly as possible to either official station or residence when state business is complete;
  • submit all appropriate receipts within 5 business days upon return from travel;
  • traveler must reimburse travel expenses to the Center on Health Disparities if travel is canceled or changes are made (airfare, hotel, etc.) due to personal reasons; 
  • reimbursement will be made for allowable changes (cancellation due to VCU Business, cancelled conference or meeting, airline cancelled flight replacement fare must be used for future VCU business trip, unexpected death of family member, unexpected illness which kept you from taking business trip or continuing your trip as planned and was not due to your own misconduct);
  • while we will make every attempt accommodate personal preferences, if there is an additional cost associated with these accommodations, it will be deducted from the traveler’s reimbursement (extended stay beyond CoHD related business travel, unauthorized rental car, luxury limousines and shuttle services, airline preferences, etc.); and
  • policies apply to all travelers unless otherwise noted.


Traveler's Responsibility:

Travel expenses are paid for by the CoHD for individuals on official VCU business must be reasonable, necessary, and represent an efficient use of resources. Furthermore, travelers and travel planners should seek ways to reduce the cost of travel. Travel expenses for individuals (spouses, friends, etc.) or employees not on official business for the University are not allowed on state or grant funds. The State relies on the honesty and integrity of its employees to prevent excessive expenditures and reimbursements. Travel expense accounts are open to the public and must be able to sustain the test of public review.  Any falsification of expenditures constitutes fraud and will be treated as such. VCU should communicate their travel policies, regulations and procedures to anyone who travels on University business. VCU and the CoHD assume no obligation to reimburse employees, scholars or non-employees for expenses that are not in compliance with policy.

Individuals traveling on behalf of the University should exercise good judgment with respect to incurring travel expenses and are expected to spend the University’s funds prudently. Travel related expenses will be paid by the University if they are deemed to be reasonable, appropriately documented, properly authorized and within the guidelines of these policies. It is the responsibility of the traveler to comply with the University’s policies governing travel. The traveler is also responsible for approving their Chrome River Expense Reports when prompted by the Chrome River Expense Approval email, as well as for tracking their own Pre-Approvals and Expense Reports in Chrome River.  Each traveler will be required to sign a Travel/Reimbursement document prior to their departure for each trip. 

Travel Agreement 2

Air travel cannot exceed the rates charged for coach fare (i.e. economy plus, business class) except:

  • when it does not cost more than the lowest available coach fare (comparison at time of booking must be attached);
  • for travel to Western Europe if the business meeting is conducted within three hours of landing;
  • for transoceanic, intercontinental trips involving flight-time of at least eight consecutive hours
  • if the traveler pays the difference;
  • if the difference is placed on Local funds – PRE APPROVAL IS REQUIRED;
  • first class is prohibited on state or grant funds; and
  • due to the liquidity of air and rail tickets, any unused portions must be returned to the CoHD for credit.  The CoHD requests that all travelers return their unused or comped should have a written policy and assigned responsibility for obtaining and controlling airline and rail tickets, particularly any unused portions.

Office of Procurement Services: Travel

Understand Document Requirements

  • For reimbursement purposes, the final confirmation pages from the Internet travel site showing the total cost, detailed itinerary, class of fare (i.e. economy) and method of payment are required.
  • Charges for changes to tickets/reservations to accommodate personal comfort, convenience and preference are not reimbursable.  In the event that the airline changes the traveler’s itinerary, the traveler must follow the airline adjustment itinerary (i.e., change fees, rerouting, overnight lodging, lost luggage, etc.).

 Please view Documentation for Travel and Food to learn more about documentation requirements.



Fly America Act

  • Travelers using Federal grant funds are required to fly on U.S. flag air carriers as stated in the Fly America Act. Contact your principal investigator or Grants & Contracts Accounting for detailed Federal regulations.


Low Cost Carriers

  • Use of Low Cost Carriers is encouraged by VCU’s Department of Procurement Services. To maintain competitive airfare prices in Richmond, travelers are encouraged to make every reasonable effort to utilize these carriers, unless significant flight schedule differences, sold out flights or large fare differences exist.


Air Travel Options:    Chartered, Personally-Owned, or State-Owned

  • In addition to the use of commercial airlines, several air travel options exist for the University when appropriate approvals are secured. Please contact Procurement Services for information about Chartered, personally-owned, or State owned aircraft.

Rail Travel

The Authorized Approver (Fiscal Administrator) may grant permission for above economy class rail travel under any of the following circumstances:

  • When it does not cost more than the lowest available coach fare (comparison must be attached);
  • When reserved coach seats are not offered on the route (documentation must be provided);
  • If the traveler pays the difference; and
  • If the difference is placed on Local funds – PREAPPROVAL IS REQUIRED.


Understand Document Requirements

For reimbursement purposes, the ticket stubs or final confirmation pages from the Internet travel site showing the total cost, detailed itinerary, class of fare (i.e. economy) and method of payment are required.


Personally-Owned Vehicles

  • Employees are permitted to use their personally owned automobile when an Enterprise/National contract vehicle is not available, or when the use of a personally owned vehicle is cost-beneficial to the University.
  • Mileage incurred by employees should be taken to/from their assigned Base Point on normal scheduled work days.  The employee’s Base Point is defined as the place, office or building where the traveler performs his/her duties on a routine basis.  It is the responsibility of the department to assign an employee’s Base Point.  Commuting mileage is not reimbursable.
  • Mileage may be reimbursed at the current IRS mileage rate of $0.575/mile for travel taken as of January 1, 2015, regardless of number of miles drives as long as this was the most cost-beneficial transportation option.


Rental Vehicles

  • Reimbursement of vehicle rental expenses is limited to official business use only. VCU utilizes a Virginia Association of State College and University Purchasing Professionals (VASCUPP) contract with Enterprise Leasing CO. to provide nationwide vehicle rentals through Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands.


Understand Documentation Requirements

  • Finalized rental receipts and gas receipts must be submitted with the reimbursement request. It is the traveler’s responsibility to make sure that tax is not inappropriately charged and that unauthorized extras have not been charged to the rental agreement. Failure of the traveler to verify charges on the receipt may result in certain expenses not being reimbursed.
  • Rentals larger than compact or intermediate class must be justified and fully explained on the budget request.


Understand Rental Car Refueling

  • Travelers must ensure that the rental vehicle is refueled before returning the vehicle to the rental contractor. Reimbursement will be based on the fuel used and receipts provided. Fuel purchased from the rental contractor may not be reimbursed with State or Grant funds. Employees should never authorize prepayment for fuel as there is a potential for purchasing fuel over the amount needed and rental car vendors do not return a credit for unused fuel. Credit card statements cannot be submitted in place of gas receipts.


Understand Insurance for Rental Car Reservations

If the traveler is a



State Employee


Rental insurance will not be reimbursed. 

The Department of Treasury, Division of Risk Management, provides a Statewide Self-Insured Automobile plan for State employees.

Non-State Employee


Only when the agency considers automobile rental reimbursable.  Rental car insurance for these individuals may also be treated as a reimbursable expense.

Insurance reimbursement should only include Liability Damage Waiver (LDW) and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

State or Non-State Employee           

Outside the United States


Individuals traveling outside of the territorial United States (including Canada, Puerto Rico) are required to purchase and will be reimbursed for LDW and CDW insurance.  Other types of insurance offered such as trip cancellation, personal, health or life insurance are not reimbursable.


Travel Reminders 2


Additional Information

  • VCU is exempt from paying taxes and fees associated with the rental in the state of Virginia.  It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure the taxes and fees associated with the rental are appropriately taken off the bill at the time of check out. Failure of the traveler to verify charges on the receipt may result in certain expenses not being reimbursed.
  • VASCUPP contract pricing for Enterprise Rent-A-Car damage waiver fee of $5/day is included in the local and national daily rental rates.


Ground Transportation

Public transportation, such as taxis, shuttles and metro, is allowed for official business needs.

  • For taxis, shuttles, parking and tolls, itemized receipts are required.



  • Prior to using personal funds to cover business expenses, it is the requestor’s responsibility to understand Personal Reimbursement Policy, including expenses are that are not allowed to be reimbursed.
  1. Office Supplies
  2. Paper
  3. Printing
  4. Alcohol
  5. Computer supplies, software and apps
  6. Flowers/Plants for Employees/Employees’ immediate Family/Employees’ Relatives
  7. Gifts for employees’ immediate family or Relatives
  8. Interest on Credit Cards
  9. Items not Retained by the University (furniture, artwork, equipment, etc.)
  10. Motor vehicle violations
  11. Picture framing
  12. Regalia
  13. Purchase of gift cards



  1. All meals must be for bona fide business purposes and should include at least one non-employee. 
  2. Tipping (server gratuity) on all business meals is limited to 20% on the total bill.
  3. Alcohol is not reimbursed for business meals and should not be included on the meal receipt.  If Alcohol is included on the submitted meal receipt, none of the items on the receipt will be reimbursed (i.e., pre-approved meals, expeditures).  Any alcohol consumed must be on a separate receipt.
  4. Original itemized receipt is required for reimbursement as well as a list of attendees.



  • VCU maintains the university’s mandatory stationary contract.  All university and VCU Medical Center stationery products must be purchased through this contract.   Please submit your budget request in advance.


Any unauthorized or circumvention of these policies and procedures could result in the denial of reimbursements.

All purchases must be submitted on a budget request form for pre-approval as soon as the knowledge of a service is needed.  The CoHD staff will respond to your request within 5 business days.  Any special requests MUST be submitted in writing. 

The CoHD will no longer consider paying for services or goods without a pre-approved budget request submitted by the requestor prior to obtaining services.

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