Back in 2014, an expense fraud case involving senators Harb and Brazeau resulted in the two senators being charged. The case highlighted that accurately tracking and verifying travel expenses can be challenging both for public and private organisations, and it illustrated that investigating fraudulent expense claims is often time- and resource-consuming. In the case of the two senators, an outside firm was hired to audit the expenses and the investigation took about a year.
Outright Fraud Is One Problem
Senators Harb and Brazaeu, now former and disgraced senators it should be noted, had claimed travel expenses for travel they never carried out. In the day-to-day operations of companies with traveling staff, the more common ways that travel expenses are inflated are when employees submit double claims, for example claiming both mileage and train tickets for the same trip, or expense personal purchases while on business trips.
Inefficient Procedure Is Another Problem
But even when employees are completely honest and follow established policies and procedures, it can be challenging to control travel expenses. You may establish a procedure for booking air travel, for example, that at the time of implementation appeared the most cost-effective approach, only to discover down the road that your procedure is now outmoded.
What Is The Solution?
You need to be able to monitor travel expenses effectively, both at the level of the individual expense claim and at the level of the organisation as whole. You also need to be able to monitor expenses against projections and relative to overall costs. This means that you must have tools to crunch the numbers from different perspectives, and monitoring systems that allow you to look at the big picture, as well as go in and check details. The best way to achieve this is to review your procedures regularly and implement effective software solutions that fit the specific needs of your company. The quest may be ongoing, but with the right armour, you can make the quest a successful one.