TARP Firms Make Expense Policies Public

I read in Meetings & Conventionsmagazine that U.S. companies who received Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds from the government have posted their expense policies online this week. Those policies include rules regarding expenditures on business travel and meetings, and the Treasury Department requires the firms to make those rules available for taxpayers to see.  

M&C provided a link to Chrysler's policy on the automaker's website. And so curious me went to see what it looked like. I was glad to see that, top of the list, Chrysler summarized how its policy affected meetings and events  -- just one of the many categories of expenditures the document actually covers. Chrysler said the policy governs "hosting, sponsorship or other payment for conferences and events, and requires that the cost to the Chrysler Group company in connection with a conference or event be reasonable and commensurate with the expected benefit to the company."

The document laid out, too, the company's plans to audit expense reports for employees -- including senior executives. And it spelled out consequences of non-compliance, for example: "Confirmed instances of non-compliance shall subject the employee to such discipline, up to and including discharge from employment..." You, too, can get a look at the policy here.

While TARP recipients must post these rules to abide by Treasury requirements, once again, I have to acknowledge and give thanks to the coalition of industry groups, including the U.S. Travel Association, the NBTA and SITE, which took incredible initiative this year and produced a model business travel/meetings policy for TARP recipients (see August 13th post, hoping to head off government regulation. It heavily influenced Treasury's own rules. And it's actually a model policy that non-TARP recipients could find quite useful, too, in establishing the foundations of a strategic meetings management program (SMMP), for example, establishing a company-wide policy on "excessive or luxury" expenditures and setting up approval procedures for events.   

I'd like to hear about changes you've made to your meetings policy since the government began increasing its focus on meetings at TARP firms. Has this watch-dog environment influenced you in any way? 

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.