B-147582, JUNE 20, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 811

B-147582: Jun 20, 1962

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TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - HOUSE TRAILER SHIPMENT - REIMBURSEMENT WHEN EMPLOYEES TRANSPORT HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS IN THEIR HOUSE TRAILERS AND THE EFFECTS ARE FOR USE INCIDENT TO THE OCCUPANCY OF THE TRAILERS AS RESIDENCES. THE EMPLOYEE WAS REIMBURSED ON THE BASIS OF THE COMMUTED RATE PROVIDED BY SECTION 1 (B) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946. WHILE BOTH THE MILEAGE RATE AND THE COMMUTED RATE MAY NOT BE PAID WHEN HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND EFFECTS ARE TRANSPORTED IN A HOUSE TRAILER. WHICH ADDED THE PROVISIONS AUTHORIZING MILEAGE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF A HOUSE TRAILER THAT IT WAS INTENDED ONLY TO PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT TO COVER THOSE SITUATIONS WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO SUPPORT A CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS ON THE COMMUTED RATE BASIS BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF ADDITIONAL EXPENSES CAUSED BY THE MOVEMENT OF THE EFFECTS.

B-147582, JUNE 20, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 811

TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - HOUSE TRAILER SHIPMENT - REIMBURSEMENT WHEN EMPLOYEES TRANSPORT HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS IN THEIR HOUSE TRAILERS AND THE EFFECTS ARE FOR USE INCIDENT TO THE OCCUPANCY OF THE TRAILERS AS RESIDENCES, THE REIMBURSEMENT PROVISIONS IN SECTION 1 (B) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 73B-1 (B), DO NOT GIVE THE EMPLOYEES AN ELECTION TO BE REIMBURSED ON EITHER A COMMUTED BASIS FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS OR A MILEAGE RATE BASIS FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE TRAILER, BUT INSTEAD REQUIRE THAT REIMBURSEMENT BE MADE ON A MILEAGE BASIS ONLY.

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JUNE 20, 1962:

ON APRIL 27, 1962, YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED THE REMOVAL OF OUR AUDIT NOTICE OF EXCEPTION DATED JANUARY 5, 1962, CONCERNING THE PAYMENT BY THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE TO MR. WOODY M. ROBERTSON FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS IN HIS HOUSE TRAILER UPON CHANGE OF PERMANENT DUTY STATION. REIMBURSEMENT HAD BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED TO BE MADE AT EITHER THE COMMUTED RATE OR THE MILEAGE RATE. THE EMPLOYEE WAS REIMBURSED ON THE BASIS OF THE COMMUTED RATE PROVIDED BY SECTION 1 (B) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, 60 STAT. 807, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 73B-1 (B), FOR THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS RATHER THAN AT THE MILEAGE RATE PROVIDED IN SECTION 1 (B) FOR THE MOVEMENT OF A HOUSE TRAILER. OUR AUDIT EXCEPTION ALLOWED CREDIT ONLY TO THE EXTENT OF THE MILEAGE AUTHORIZED FOR MOVEMENT OF THE HOUSE TRAILER.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY ALSO REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE CORRECTNESS OF THE VIEW HELD BY YOUR DEPARTMENT THAT, WHILE BOTH THE MILEAGE RATE AND THE COMMUTED RATE MAY NOT BE PAID WHEN HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND EFFECTS ARE TRANSPORTED IN A HOUSE TRAILER, THE PAYMENT OF EITHER ONE OR THE OTHER WOULD BE PROPER UNDER SECTION 1 (B).

SECTION 1 (B) PROVIDES THAT:

IN LIEU OF THE PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, PACKING, CRATING, TEMPORARY STORAGE, DRAYAGE, AND UNPACKING OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS, IN THE CASE OF SUCH TRANSFERS BETWEEN POINTS IN CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE MADE TO THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ON A COMMUTED BASIS (NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD BE ALLOWABLE FOR THE AUTHORIZED WEIGHT ALLOWANCE) AS (AT) SUCH RATES PER ONE HUNDRED POUNDS AS MAY BE FIXED BY ZONES IN REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT. UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE PRESIDENT MAY PRESCRIBE, ANY CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSPORTS A HOUSE TRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, WITHIN ALASKA, OR BETWEEN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AND ALASKA, FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE AND WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS UNDER SUBSECTION (A) OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE ENTITLED TO A REASONABLE ALLOWANCE, NOT TO EXCEED 20 CENTS PER MILE, IN LIEU OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS IT WOULD APPEAR FROM THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 12, 1958, 72 STAT. 14, WHICH ADDED THE PROVISIONS AUTHORIZING MILEAGE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF A HOUSE TRAILER THAT IT WAS INTENDED ONLY TO PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT TO COVER THOSE SITUATIONS WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO SUPPORT A CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS ON THE COMMUTED RATE BASIS BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF ADDITIONAL EXPENSES CAUSED BY THE MOVEMENT OF THE EFFECTS.

SECTION 1 (B) CLEARLY PROHIBITS PAYMENT OF BOTH A MILEAGE RATE FOR TRANSPORTING A HOUSE TRAILER AND A COMMUTED RATE FOR TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND EFFECTS. FURTHER, WE FIND NO BASIS IN THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 1 (B) FOR INTERPRETING THE PROVISIONS OF THE SECTION TO MEAN THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSPORTS A HOUSE TRAILER CONTAINING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AN PERSONAL EFFECTS, WHICH ORDINARILY ARE FOR USE INCIDENT TO OCCUPANCY AND USE OF THE HOUSE TRAILER AS A RESIDENCE, IS GIVEN AN ELECTION TO CHOOSE BETWEEN REIMBURSEMENT AT THE MILEAGE RATE OR AT THE COMMUTED RATE; NEITHER DO WE FIND ANY STATEMENT OF SUCH A PURPOSE IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE 1958 AMENDMENT.

OUR OPINION IS THAT UNDER THE WORDING OF THE 1958 AMENDMENT TO SECTION 1 (B) AN EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSPORTS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS IN HIS HOUSE TRAILER, WHICH EFFECTS ARE FOR USE INCIDENT TO OCCUPANCY OF THE TRAILER AS A RESIDENCE, MAY BE AUTHORIZED PAYMENT ONLY UPON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HIS HOUSE TRAILER. IN MR. ROBERTSON'S CASE WE MUST ASSUME ON THE PRESENT RECORD THAT THE EFFECTS MOVED WERE FOR USE INCIDENT TO THE OCCUPANCY OF THE TRAILER AS A RESIDENCE. WE RECOGNIZE THAT EVEN ALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR THE HOUSE TRAILER MOVEMENT IN HIS CASE IS SUBJECT TO OBJECTION IN THE ABSENCE OF A CERTIFICATION THAT IT WAS TRANSPORTED FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE.

THEREFORE, UPON THE PRESENT RECORD, REIMBURSEMENT AT THE COMMUTED RATE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE EFFECTS OF THE EMPLOYEE HERE INVOLVED WAS IMPROPER, AND OUR AUDIT NOTICE OF EXCEPTION MUST STAND.