updated 9/14/2009 5:41:13 PM ET 2009-09-14T21:41:13

Companies that received billions of dollars of government aid have published policies meant to limit lavish expenses, new rules that follow reports of costly private jets, spa retreats and other corporate excess at firms receiving taxpayer money.

The Treasury Department required financial institutions and automakers that received money from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to post their new polices covering “excessive or luxury expenditures” on their corporate Web sites. The policies posted Monday ranged from blanket statements of proper spending practices by company employees, to how much to tip a hotel doorman while traveling.

The list includes companies that took some of the largest chunks of government aid — including American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., General Motors Co., and Chrysler LLC.

The policies, which generally require greater scrutiny by top executives and corporate boards of major expenses, are part of a broad swath of government standards at bailed-out companies designed to help them stay afloat during the financial crisis. That includes an ongoing Treasury review of the pay packages for executives at major TARP recipients.

Lawmakers and the public have blasted some spending and perks at companies that were given government lifelines, including a posh California retreat for executives of AIG last fall and the decision last year by top automakers’ officials to fly corporate jets to Washington while asking for billions in bailouts.

Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly would not comment on the policies that had been posted as of Monday afternoon. GM, which has received $50 billion in government aid and is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the program, has until October to report because it emerged from bankruptcy in July.

The amount of disclosure revealed Monday varied broadly.

Chrysler Financial Services, which has repaid $1.5 billion in federal loans, provided an extensive 15-page policy that prohibits employees traveling on business from being reimbursed for lunch on trips that don’t require an overnight stay and directs employees to fly coach if their flight is less than four hours. Employees also can’t expense country club fees, massages and spa services, hotel frequent-guest programs and tuxedos or evening gowns.

Lost baggage at the airport? Tough luck. Under the policy, Chrysler Financial will not reimburse employees for personal items lost while traveling on business.

The policy limits tips to up to 20 percent, excluding taxes, for a meal at a restaurant, up to $2 for buffet dining and up to $5 for a doorman. Gratuity is prohibited for a hotel concierge or maintenance worker. When at the car rental agency, employees should choose mid-size vehicles when traveling individually on company business. A full-size vehicle can be rented for trips with three or more employees.

GMAC Financial Services, meanwhile, offered a more broad set of rules for workers prohibiting expenditures that “are, or reasonably could be construed as, excessive or as a luxury.” It applies to expenditures for entertainment or events, office renovations or travel.

The GMAC policy says an expenditure is considered excessive or a luxury if “it would be unreasonable, extravagant, and/or inordinate in the mind of a reasonable business person taking into account all relevant facts, circumstances (and) legal requirements.”

The policies also addressed office renovations, which became an issue after reports that Merrill Lynch spent $1.2 million last year renovating the office of then-CEO John Thain.

Thain later said he would repay the company now part of Bank of America, for the refurbishing that reportedly included pricey rugs and antique furniture.

Bank of America wrote that senior management would have to approve renovations that were considered out-of-the-ordinary, including the purchase of antiques and customized finishes.

GM spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem said the automaker’s “expense policy is compliant with the requirements of our U.S. Treasury loans as well as the requirements of the (Emergency Economic Stabilization Act) rules and we plan to disclose our policy as required.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com