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Electronic Communication Policy

Effective Date:  
February 1, 2007 

Last Updated:   May 1, 2012  

Responsible University Officer:
  • Vice President for Business and Finance

Policy Owner:
  • Associate Vice President for Accounting and Business Services

Policy Contact:
  • Dennis Miller
Policy Contents

   Policy Statement
   Reason for Policy
   Who Should Read this Policy
   Policy Text
   Related Information
   Additional Contacts
   Revision History


It is the policy of the University to provide employees with electronic communication resources who perform certain critical job functions and incur additional electronic communication costs in the performance of those functions. To this end, the University provides standard reimbursements to such employees in recognition of the additional expenses they incur in using their personal cell phones, smart phones, or similar electronic equipment for business purposes. The standard reimbursements authorized in this Policy are calculated to approximate, but not exceed, the actual monthly costs incurred by an employee in maintaining a service plan for University business use and to assist the employee in purchasing and replacing cell phone-related equipment.

The authority to approve payments allowable under this Policy is limited to the President and the Vice Presidents. See Authorization.

Departments may establish more restrictive procedures, if desired.


This Policy establishes the standard reimbursements that the University will pay for employee-owned cellular telephones and similar devices and related service plans used for certain critical job functions. The Policy also establishes the procedures for furnishing an employee with a tablet computer purchased by the University. The Policy conforms to the Internal Revenue Code and applicable Treasury Regulations governing the tax treatment of employer-provided cell phones


Any employee who receives a reimbursement for an electronic communication resource; the President, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans, as well as supervisors and Business Managers who supervise an employee provided with an electronic communication payment.


The University will provide employees with standard monthly and biannual reimbursements to support the purchase of personal cell phones, smart phones, and related service plans required for business purposes. In general, cellular devices and plans must be purchased by employees as individual liability accounts using their own funds. In selecting a service plan and equipment, employees are encouraged to take advantage of University discounts offered by Purchasing Services. See Purchasing Services - Discounts.

All tablet computers must be purchased as corporate liability accounts using University funds. Cell phones, push-to-talk phones, and similar devices provided to eligible public safety and facilities personnel are also acquired as corporate liability accounts purchased by the University.

Criteria for Reimbursement

To qualify for a standard reimbursement, an employee’s job responsibilities must be comprised of activities critical to University operations. Examples of such activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The majority of the employee’s job responsibilities are conducted away from his or her principal place of business. For example, an admissions counselor or an advancement officer who travels at least 50% of his or her time. Other examples include certain public safety officers, information technology staff, and facilities support personnel who work in the field.
  • The employee is on-call during non-business hours (i.e., 24/7) to support campus operations or respond to emergencies.
  • The employee is a critical executive decision-maker who must be available at all times by electronic means.

Justifications for a reimbursement, including a description of how an electronic device would be critical to University operations, must be included with the request for a standard reimbursement. See Electronic Communication Authorization and Reimbursement Form.

Tablet Computers

Apple iPads and Lenovo tablet computers must be purchased centrally through the Office of Information and Technology Services (ITS), using the standard hardware exception request process. The tablet exception process only requires approval by the department Business Manager. Other computer tablets may be purchased by departments using the Purchasing Card (or a Payment Request if a Purchasing Card is not an acceptable form of payment) subject to the limit set forth in Appendix A.

Because a tablet computer provided to an employee is owned by the University, it must be promptly returned to the employee’s department when it is determined that the tablet is no longer needed for business purposes or the employee separates from University employment. See Tablet Computer Policy.

Incremental Business Expenses

An employee who does not qualify for a standard reimbursement may submit an Expense Report through the Concur Reporting System requesting reimbursement for occasional business calls that result in incremental costs incurred by the individual. A copy of the employee’s cell phone bill with the additional costs clearly noted on the statement must be included with the Expense Report. Incremental costs are those expenses that exceed the employee's normal service plan fees (e.g., excess minute charges, roaming charges, etc.). Such costs may be reimbursed, at the discretion of the employee’s department, when they are the result of business calls made by the employee on behalf of the University. See Methods of Payment.

Internet Service

The University does not support the reimbursement of home Internet service plan costs. Employees are expected to have appropriate Internet access, including employees whose job responsibilities involve system support from remote locations. However, Internet charges incurred while traveling (e.g., hotel access charges) are reimbursable. See Travel and Entertainment Policy.

Standard Reimbursements

The standard monthly and biannual reimbursements authorized for employees approved to receive an electronic communication resource are included in Appendix A.

Employees who receive a standard reimbursement may not receive additional reimbursements for any cell phone-related expenses or deposits, other than one-time set-up costs. Exceptions to receive an increase in the standard reimbursement and other additional reimbursements must be approved in writing by the President or Vice President, for employees under their jurisdiction, based on documentation submitted by the employee substantiating the additional expenses.





USF Computer Replacement Policy, ITS
USF Purchasing Card Policy
USF Discounts, Purchasing Services
USF Tablet Computer Policy, ITS




Business Manager A University employee, designated by the President, Vice President, Vice Provost, or Dean who is the budget manager for the University account(s) being used by a cardholder. This may include the President, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, or Deans.
Concur Reporting System The University’s on-line system for payment requests, expense reimbursements, cash advance requests, and reporting.
Principal Place of Business The location of an employee’s main office or permanent work place, i.e., the place where the major portion of the employee's working time is spent or the place to which the employee returns after the completion of a temporary assignment. For an adjunct faculty member, it is the campus where the individual is normally assigned to teach.
Purchasing Card A bank-issued Visa card with a standard single transaction limit of $1,000 and a monthly credit limit of $2,500. This card may be used for small dollar, business-related purchases, including the payment of standard reimbursements and related expenses authorized under this Policy.






Accounting & Business Services Frank Wasilewski 415.422.2402 fmwasilewski@usfca.edu
Contracts and Grants Laurie Treleven 415.422.5268 ltreleven@usfca.edu
Disbursement Services Dennis Miller 415.422.2102 millerd@usfca.edu
ITS Opinder Bawa 415.422.2680 cio@usfca.edu
Payment Request Emmy Moore 415.422.2706 moore@usfca.edu
Purchasing Card Dennis Miller 415.422.2102 pcard@usfca.edu





Electronic Communication Authorization and Reimbursement Form Used to request cell phone and/or service plan reimbursements Accounting and Business Services
Expense Report Used to obtain reimbursement for business-related expenses paid with personal funds Accounting and Business Services
Payment Request Used in lieu of the Purchasing Card to initiate a payment request in the Concur Reporting System Accounting and Business Services


  • Prepares Electronic Communication and Authorization Form requesting that an employee receive a standard reimbursement or other reimbursement.
  • Ensures that Electronic Communication and Authorization Form is updated annually and that the reimbursement is adjusted or terminated, if necessary.

Business Manager or Supervisor
  • Ensures that budgeted funds are available for expenses.
  • Reviews and approves charges in Concur Reporting System.
  • Ensures all expenses are business-related and in compliance with this Policy.

Accounting and Business Services
  • Annually reviews employee standard reimbursements and makes appropriate adjustments, as needed.

President and Vice Presidents
  • Authorizes standard reimbursements and related cell phone expenses.
  • Ensures employees in his or her division are in compliance with this Policy.
  • Approves any exceptions to this Policy for employees in his or her division.
  • Reviews and approves charges in the Concur Reporting System for his or her direct reports.



  • 05/01/2012 - Amended in response to IRS Notice 2011-72
  • 01/01/2009 - Amended to authorized bi-annual and/or monthly reimbursements for the business use of cell phones
  • 02/01/2007 - First publication of Policy


 Appendix A Standard Reimbursements