It seems there was a lot of air travel upgrading going on in the last year.

Chris Dunker at the Columbus Telegram:

University’s first-class world travel slammed in audit

An audit of travel expenses submitted by University of Nebraska employees found overpriced first-class flights, oceanfront hotel stays and other violations of university policy and state law in 2013 and 2014.

Nebraska State Auditor Mike Foley reviewed 87 documents related to travel expenses for employees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

According to the state’s accounting manual, air travel reimbursement is limited to coach seating, although employees are allowed to upgrade to business or first class out of their own pockets.

UNMC employees bought 20 first-class airline tickets totaling $95,762 paid for by the university, however, with no reasons given for the upgrades and no reimbursement by employees, the report said. UNMC administrators disagree with the report’s findings.

According to the auditor’s report, the first-class flights included:

* $8,566 round-trip from Omaha to Tanzania in June 2014

* $8,355 round-trip from Omaha to Nigeria in January 2014

* $7,929 round-trip from Omaha to India in September 2014

* $6,267 round-trip from Omaha to India in September 2014

* $6,017 round-trip from Switzerland to Hawaii in July 2014

* $5,870 round-trip from Omaha to Oman during November 2013

Deb Thomas, senior associate vice chancellor for business and finance at UNMC, said the audit’s accounting of the overseas first-class flights is “factually an error.”

If a professor is asked to speak at a conference in Germany, she said, UNMC pays for the airfare and is later reimbursed for the total cost by whoever is sponsoring the conference.

“At UNMC, we have long-held a policy that if any employee needs to travel overseas, they have to have the permission of the vice chancellor of the business or finance,” Thomas said.