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COVID-19 Guidance for Travel & Expenses

The University of Pittsburgh continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and provide the latest information on resilience planning and operational postures at The following guidance relates to travel as well as the use of the University Travel Card for unplanned/un-budgeted expenses:


In addition to the University’s Safe Travel Guidance and Requirements, travel is subject to the University’s operational postures and COVID-19 Standards and Guidelines for Safe Mobility as well as Travel Management:

  • Across operational postures, University-related travel should be kept to a minimum. If a University member is traveling when the University moves to an Elevated or High Risk Posture, the individual should contact either the University’s Travel Office (for domestic travel) or Pitt Global (for international travel) who may consult with the EOC for guidance on whether returning to their home campus is necessary and safe to do so.
  • High Risk Posture: International, domestic or campus-to-campus travel are not permitted. Exceptions may be granted by the overseeing member of the Senior Leadership Team if the travel is necessary to fulfill a primary job function and provide crucial support to the University.
  • Elevated Risk Posture: International, domestic or campus-to-campus travel is restricted to that necessary to fulfill a primary job function and approved by the overseeing member of the Senior Leadership Team or their designee.
  • Guarded Risk Posture: University-related travel is permitted if approved by an individual’s unit, following the process outlined in the unit’s Activity Area Plan.

Note the following definitions for Essential and Non-essential travel:

  • Essential travel is defined as travel absolutely necessary to fulfill your core or primary job function and/or provides crucial support to the University. Example: Research or lab work with a deadline.
  • Non-essential travel is any other travel. Conferences, professional development and speaking engagements are not considered essential nor is anything that can be conducted at a later date.

Dependent on the University’s operational posture, approval is required for travel as outlined in the University’s Standards and Guidelines for Safe Mobility. In the event travel is deemed necessary, pre-booking approvals for travel will be automated within the Concur system  as follows. Arrangements should be made with the University’s contracted travel management supplier Anthony Travel and bookings should be made directly through Anthony Travel or using the Concur online booking tool:

  • High Risk and Elevated Risk Postures: RC Head approval is required for travel that is deemed necessary during these postures. The Concur online booking tool will automatically route travel bookings for pre-booking approval based on the traveler’s default account information in their Concur profile. The same RC approver for purchases over $100,000 will also approve Concur pre-booking requests. 
  • Guarded Risk Posture: Approval by the individual’s department is required. The Concur online booking tool will automatically route travel bookings for pre-booking approval, based on the traveler’s default account information in their Concur profile, to the departmental approver. 

Non-refundable Travel Expenses

If faculty or staff wish to cancel [travel] plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the University is hereby granting an exception to the University’s Travel & Business Expense Policy (FN28, formerly 05-07-01) for any otherwise reimbursable University-related travel booked through May 31, 2020. The policy was originally developed to heighten awareness among travelers of the costs they incur when changing business travel plans for personal reasons. But over the weekend of March 7-9, Provost Cudd and David DeJong, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources issued a memo to Deans, Presidents, Associate Deans, Vice Presidents RC Heads, Administrators and Business Managers that addressed these concerns. Please view the communication here.

They will reassess this date as the University continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and may extend the deadline as conditions evolve. This applies to both conference expenses paid by schools and regional campuses, as well as grant-funded travel.

Directions to reconcile cancelled travel and other emergency expenses in Concur

  • Log into Concur to create an expense report
    • Please put all expenses associated with this trip onto 1 expense report – both charges and any credits that you receive.
    • If you’ve paid for your expense(s) with the University Travel Card and the charge and credit transactions net to zero dollars, you must still create an expense report and include these transactions.
    • For all cancellations, either charged on a Travel Card or a personal credit/debit card, a copy of the cancellation confirmation must be included in the receipt packet to be considered valid.
  • For all expenses and credits related to this trip, please use the COVID-19 Cancelled Travel expense type. This will work with both charges and credits and will assist us in keeping track of cancelled travel during this time.
  • For any unbudgeted/emergency expenses (such as purchases of disinfectant wipes, gloves, etc), please use this expense type in Concur.

Unplanned/Unbudgeted COVID-19 Expenses

You may be incurring unplanned and unbudgeted expenses such as the purchase of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies as well as unrecoverable costs related to canceled events. These types of expenses should be recorded as follows in order to allow us to track these expenses appropriately. More detailed examples will follow as we continue our outreach to departmental administrators.

  • In PRISM – use subcode 8119
  • Using Travel Card, Concur – use COVID-19 Cancelled Travel expense type
  • Using Purchasing Card – reconcile transactions using subcode 8119


If you have questions, please contact Customer Service.