Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Joy of Cooking... Bureaucrats!!

So... I was trying to get my business expense report submitted and it wasn't good enough that the online system we have in place at the company I work for (which shall remain un-named!) is a convoluted mess and harder than a rubic's cube to use. I submit the report and get it tossed back for not itemizing the rental car section and making the GPS a personal expense. We send of an email to ask why the GPS isn't reasonable and get the following response:

"GPS is an add-on to the rental car and is considered a personal expense. If your program would like to reimburse it, it would be considered unallowable and would require your Business Group Director’s approval. As for the reasonable consideration…the only thing I can say is that this is only the 2nd time since January that I was made aware of an employee seeking reimbursement for GPS navigation. It is not part of what we would consider a standard travel expense.


Now that was just too friendly and helpful for words - not to mention being irrational when it comes to any practical exposure to the word "reasonable" so I wrote a response:


If your new to an area and you need to get around efficiently with no wasted time or effort it makes a hell of a lot more sense than juggling a map book or Google mapping it while you're driving. A car provides the means to get where you need to go - directions provide you with the knowledge to get there - especially when meeting venues are being changed on the fly. That's reality. If it's a personal expense then so be it - but that's policy, which, in my experience, is formulated and then rarely reviewed to keep it in touch with "on the ground" reality. When that policy was formulated there probably wasn't GPS available. That would make the policy, and thus the "standard" travel expense, at least 3 years out of touch with the new reality.

When all the OTHER add on expenses associated with operating the vehicle are refused because I'm covered by my own car insurance (that I pay for) or they are un-necessary fluff, it seems slightly ludicrous to make an issue out of a GPS charge that helps me do my job better AND and be a more compelling representative of ########## in the competitive marketplace we call defense industry.

Just so we keep things in perspective -
1) I bought my own laptop for business travel needs

2) I buy my own car insurance WITH coverage for rental cars for business travel needs

3) I pay for any other incidental expenses during business travel

4) I (now) will be paying for my use of a directional device for business travel needs

But as my business travel and responsibilities increase, there is NO indexing of my compensation
Oh, that's right! - that's because I'm supposed to be able to get reimbursed for reasonable expenses.

As for your response to the word "reasonable" - I can't account for what you have or have not been informed of, what you have or have not remembered, or any other aspect of the historical period you mention, but the points noted above do present the basis for "reasonableness", using the reasonable person theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_person).


Then it occurred to me - why send this back to her when I can send it to the world! She wouldn't get it because she's a bureaucrat and bureaucrats don't connect with reality. They hide in verse and phrase because they couldn't do their jobs if they didn't - but there are lots of other folks who will get it so here it is for general public consumption. Till next time! :-)

No comments: