What keeps you honest? (an Open Thread)

Ah, the corporate expense report – the bane of every professional traveler’s end of trip paperwork. You need (and are owed) the reimbursement, but man, what a PITA.  Don’t you think you deserve just a little more than the policy allows because you give so much of your personal time to the company?  It’s not dinner, golf, a sports outing.  When you’re trying to close a deal, it’s WORK.  Those are extra hours you’re putting in – practically for free.  You could be spending the time with your family.  You always go above and beyond what’s required of your job.  A little extra here and there is only fair. Dare I say – it’s only right.

So, do you do it? If you can submit up to $25 without a receipt and you only had a $3.79 cup of coffee, how much do you put in the expense report box?  Does the company policy and threat of being fired influence the amount you put in the box?

I’ve unfortunately witnessed co-workers throwing away solid careers over just a few dollars; buying a plane ticket but having it credited and turning in the original receipt; a manager having a subordinate pick up a late night Vegas tab so that the approval email comes to his email and not his boss’s.   I’ve seen people legally work within the policy but still find a way to rob the company blind.

Why then do so many successful companies continue to have Expense Report policies knowing some will still find a way to cheat the system?

With all the Ethics Reform articles being posted, consider this your Open Thread on whether or not a pledge on paper will keep folks honest with the paperwork.



  1. Bull Moose says:

    I’m taking advantage of this open thread to ask for your help. There are 9 bipartisan pieces of legislation pending in the US Congress that have to do with cancer. Various GA members are sponsors of some of them. What I need from the readers of Peach Pundit, is for you to reach out to your Member of Congress and either thank them for being a sponsor or ask them to be a sponsor. These pieces of legislation will help move the ball forward in improving cancer outcomes, improving treatment, and offering those who are fighting cancer more HOPE.

    1. HR 733 Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Barrow, Bishop, Broun, Gingrey, Johnson, Lewis

    2. HR 2159 PROSTATE Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Barrow, Bishop, Broun, Scott

    3. HR 912 Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection & Treatment Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: None

    4. HR 111 Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Barrow, Bishop, Johnson, Lewis, Scott

    5. HR 1970 National Childhood Brain Tumor Prevention Network Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: None

    6. HR 2746 Cancer Drug Parity Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: None

    7. HR 3067 Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Barrow, Bishop, Gingrey, Johnson, Lewis, Scott

    8. HR 1394 Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Bishop, Johnson, Lewis, Scott

    9. HR 3466 Taxpayers Cancer Research Funding Act
    GA Co-Sponsors: Scott

    • Jackster says:

      I did not see the NCI Funding bill listed, which to me is where these need to go.

      Pressure from all around has been levied on the NIH and NCI – There site on Cancer research funding is very telling about the resources being spent by the US gov’t, not including actual care (which is through a separate entity).


      Personally, I like to see bills and programs that address disparities, not he different types of cancer.

  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Does the company policy and threat of being fired influence the amount you put in the box?”

    That and knowing that if everyone is allowed to plunder the company’s finances as they wish, there eventually won’t be a job or a company to work for, as we have seen demonstrated entirely way too often in recent years.

    “With all the Ethics Reform articles being posted, consider this your Open Thread on whether or not a pledge on paper will keep folks honest with the paperwork.”

    No, it won’t, especially if there are no real consequences for being dishonest with virtually no ethics enforcement in existence.

    • Bridget says:

      I’m leaning towards the pledge not meaning squat to me especially with some of the people who have signed it. I can pledge all day long that I’m not going to something…. character is what keeps me from doing it.

      As explained in Good to Great – do we have the right people on the bus? Our success will be getting the right people on the bus and kicking off the ones who don’t belong.

      • Calypso says:

        If you accomplish that, I’m thinking you’ll only end up with something along the lines of a small mini-van.

  3. Jackster says:

    Pledges do not keep people honest – controls do.

    For instance, every employee pledges to follow standards in an employee handbook, which usually has some sort of “Do what’s best for the company” or “Don’t embarass yourself or us”, etc.

    Think of it this way – expenses billed back to a client will be scruitinized by the client – the risk here is that the business eats expenses that the client rejects. That’s the control.

    For company expenses, it comes down to your P&L – executives usually are judged based on their P&L performance, or their Contribution to Margin.

    So to me, Ethics is a personal thing, and if you happen to have control over the budget, you know what you can spend better than someone going to town out in the field. (FYI – I usually make the business argument that not having to pay someone’s salary will more than pay for improper expenses.)

  4. Dave Bearse says:

    Review and approval of expense reports by others that will also be held accountable, like the most simple locks, keep honest people honest. Anyone that truly believes that extravagant gifts have no effect on the decisions of nearly all people of ordinary means lacks a basic understanding of human behavior.

    It’s necessary that nearly all gift recipients should actively seek to discount the influence of gifts, a “just right” circumstance that is unlikely to be routinely achieved. Indeed it may be expected that the most conscientious may overcompensate with respect to the action sought by the gift-giver.

    Who knew that our General Assembly representation as a class are among that very rare breed that reliably get it “just right”?

  5. joe says:

    From The Code of Hammurabi, “If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.”

    Stealing (since that is what padding an expense acount really is) has been codified as wrong for at least 3700 years, yet people still steal. The only thing that will slow it at all is a personal sense of morals/ethics as a value. Parents need to teach their children.

  6. SallyForth says:

    “With all the Ethics Reform articles being posted, consider this your Open Thread on whether or not a pledge on paper will keep folks honest with the paperwork.”

    Nope. Clean out the rats nest: Enforce existing laws against theft of any and all sorts, make these folks do the perp walk for their transgressions and learn whether or not stripes make their asinine look bigger.

  7. Lawton Sack says:

    You cannot legislate morality. Laws may keep some on the fence from doing something wrong, but it’s what is inside of a person that will drive most people to make a decision.

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      Guess what, the government does not generally attempt to legislate morality. The regulate behavior with a combination of red-tape (which simply provides evidence as to who is doing what and when), oversight, and law.

      The word regulation literally means “to make regular,” or to normalize (to make normal). Ever heard of a social norm?

      The bete noir of regulation brought up by the right wing is mostly unfounded. It sounds good, but there is no scientific evidence backing their claims that the economy is being strangled by regulation. The only people strangled by regulation, by and large, are those trying to rip you off.

  8. saltycracker says:

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    John Adams

    The purpose of a policy is to clearly define boundaries and acceptable activities.
    Without consequences for violations the policy is worthless.
    Tolerance can be corrupting to a culture weak on judicial enforcement.

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      Screw John Adams. Moral and religious people. What a crock!

      Otherwise, very well put. I would suggest, however, that you sneak the word ‘regulation’ in parenthetically after the word ‘policy.’ They are the same thing, but the right-wing tends to ignore that fact.

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