Scrooge would be proud. More companies are adopting sophisticated new technology to help track and crack down on employee expense accounts.

Using new software, corporate travelers can more easily file and track their expenses on the road, and find out in real time if they are following company policies. Their bosses can also keep tabs on their travel spending as transactions occur.

"Nothing lends itself better to an online application," said Laurie McCabe, vice president at AMI-Partners, a consulting firm for small and midsize businesses.

The new technology, though, is bad news for travelers who have been inclined through the years to pad their expenses or venture outside company guidelines.

The software - now used by major companies like Boeing, Campbell Soup, Estée Lauder, J.C. Penney and Texas Instruments - is so sophisticated that online digital detectives can spot even the tiniest gap between actual and allowable expenses. The stakes are high. The total annual bill for travel and entertainment among American companies is more than $200 billion, according to Concur Technologies, a software provider, and American Express.

International Business Machines alone spent $493 million on airline tickets in 2004, according to the most recent annual compilation by Business Travel News, followed by General Electric's $280 million and Boeing's $274 million. (Double those figures for a rough estimate of each company's total annual spending on travel and entertainment.)

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