B-158272, JAN. 25, 1966

B-158272: Jan 25, 1966

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ALTHOUGH WE HAVE NOT BEEN FURNISHED COPIES OF MRS. THE EVIDENCE OF RECORD INDICATES THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS ISSUED TRAVEL ORDERS IN OCTOBER 1963 AUTHORIZING HER TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER FROM BRUSSELS TO LEOPOLDVILLE. CARMICHAEL WAS AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS NOT TO EXCEED 7. SHE WAS SCHEDULED FOR HOME LEAVE AND TRANSFER TO A NEW POST. IN SEPTEMBER 1963 HER TOUR OF DUTY IN BRUSSELS WAS EXTENDED UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR AND IN OCTOBER 1963 SHE FIRST RECEIVED HER TRAVEL ORDERS. SINCE THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT DEPART FROM BRUSSELS UNTIL JANUARY 1964 SHE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY THE EXPENSES OF STORING HER HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31.

B-158272, JAN. 25, 1966

TO MR. LYLE R. HEWITT, ASSISTANT BUDGET AND FISCAL OFFICER, AMERICAN EMBASSY:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 9, 1965, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A TRAVEL VOUCHER TRANSMITTED THEREWITH FOR $277.93, IN FAVOR OF MRS. MARY M. CARMICHAEL, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, COVERING TEMPORARY STORAGE EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO HER TRANSFER OF STATION FROM BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, TO LEOPOLDVILLE, REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE NOT BEEN FURNISHED COPIES OF MRS. CARMICHAEL'S TRAVEL ORDERS, THE EVIDENCE OF RECORD INDICATES THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS ISSUED TRAVEL ORDERS IN OCTOBER 1963 AUTHORIZING HER TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER FROM BRUSSELS TO LEOPOLDVILLE, FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF HOME LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES. APPARENTLY, MRS. CARMICHAEL WAS AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS NOT TO EXCEED 7,200 POUNDS NET WEIGHT.

IN HER MEMORANDUM OF DECEMBER 1, 1965, ACCOMPANYING HER TRAVEL VOUCHER, MRS. CARMICHAEL STATES THAT AS EARLY AS JUNE 25, 1963, SHE WAS SCHEDULED FOR HOME LEAVE AND TRANSFER TO A NEW POST. HOWEVER, IN SEPTEMBER 1963 HER TOUR OF DUTY IN BRUSSELS WAS EXTENDED UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR AND IN OCTOBER 1963 SHE FIRST RECEIVED HER TRAVEL ORDERS. SHE DID NOT DEPART FROM BRUSSELS UNTIL JANUARY 1964. HOWEVER, IN ORDER TO AVOID ANY DELAY IN CLEARING THE POST, COUPLED WITH THE NECESSITY OF GIVING THREE MONTHS NOTICE TO HER LANDLORD, MRS. CARMICHAEL TRANSFERRED HER HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO STORAGE IN SEPTEMBER 1963 AND MOVED INTO A HOTEL IN BRUSSELS. APPARENTLY, SINCE THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT DEPART FROM BRUSSELS UNTIL JANUARY 1964 SHE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY THE EXPENSES OF STORING HER HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31, 1963 ($63.93).

MRS. CARMICHAEL ALSO WAS REQUIRED TO PAY THE SUM OF $214, REPRESENTING THE COST OF STORING 1,508 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN EXCESS OF HER AUTHORIZED WEIGHT LIMITATION OF 7,200 POUNDS NET WEIGHT DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1 TO JUNE 30, 1964. MRS. CARMICHAEL SAYS THAT THE GOVERNMENT MADE ALL OF THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE PACKING AND STORING OF HER HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND, THEREFORE, BELIEVES THAT SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OBLIGATED TO PAY THE EXCESS STORAGE CHARGES.

APPARENTLY YOU BELIEVE THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE MRS. CARMICHAEL FOR THE TWO STORAGE ITEMS, BUT DUE TO THE EXPLANATION CONTAINED IH HER MEMORANDUM OF DECEMBER 1, 1965, YOU REQUEST OUR DECISION IN THE MATTER.

WITH RESPECT TO THE STORAGE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31, 1963, WE INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO SECTION 911 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 22 U.S.C. 1136, WHICH PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE SECRETARY MAY, UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS HE SHALL PRESCRIBE, PAY---

"/5) THE COST OF PACKING AND UNPACKING, TRANSPORTING TO AND FROM A PLACE OF STORAGE, AND STORING THE FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE SERVICE IN CONNECTION WITH ASSIGNMENT OR TRANSFER TO A NEW POST, FROM THE DATE OF HIS DEPARTURE FROM HIS LAST POST OR FROM THE DATE OF HIS DEPARTURE FROM HIS PLACE OF RESIDENCE IN THE CASE OF A NEW OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AND FOR NOT TO EXCEED THREE MONTHS AFTER ARRIVAL AT THE NEW POST, OR UNTIL THE ESTABLISHMENT OF RESIDENCE QUARTERS, WHICHEVER SHALL BE SHORTER; * * * BUT IN NO INSTANCE SHALL THE WEIGHT OR VOLUME OF THE EFFECTS STORED TOGETHER WITH THE WEIGHT OR VOLUME EFFECTS TRANSPORTED, EXCEED THE MAXIMUM LIMITATIONS FIXED BY REGULATIONS, WHEN NOT OTHERWISE FIXED BY LAW.'

ALSO, SEE SECTION 175.2 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE TRAVEL REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO AUTHORIZED PERIODS OF TEMPORARY STORAGE.

BOTH THE STATUTE AND THE REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT, IN THE CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS TRANSFERRED TO A NEW POST, HIS EFFECTS MAY BE TEMPORARILY STORED FROM THE DATE OF HIS DEPARTURE FROM HIS LAST POST. THEREFORE, SINCE MRS. CARMICHAEL DID NOT DEPART FROM BRUSSELS UNTIL JANUARY 1964, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY, ON THE BASIS OF THE PRESENT RECORD TO OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME THE COST OF STORING HER HOUSEHOLD GOODS DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31, 1963.

THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE ARRANGED FOR THE PACKING AND STORING OF MRS. CARMICHAEL'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS DOES NOT RELIEVE HER OF LIABILITY TO PAY THE EXPENSES OF STORING GOODS IN EXCESS OF HER AUTHORIZED NET WEIGHT LIMITATION. AS A MATTER OF LAW THE MOVEMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS IS NOT A GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION AND WHEN THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH ITS REPRESENTATIVES UNDERTAKES TO PACK, CRATE AND SHIP THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF AN EMPLOYEE OR TO ARRANGE FOR SUCH SERVICES, IT DOES SOONLY AS THE AGENT OF THE EMPLOYEE. MOREOVER, SECTION 115 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE TRAVEL REGULATIONS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT "THE TRAVELER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CORRECT PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND FOR THE PAYMENT OF ANY CHARGES INCURRED THROUGH FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE GOVERNING REGULATIONS, REGARDLESS OF WHO MAY HAVE ASSISTED HIM IN MAKING HIS TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS.' SECTION 163.1 OF THOSE SAME REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT "EACH EMPLOYEE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY TRANSPORTATION, DEMURRAGE, STORAGE, CUSTOMS, CARTAGE OR OTHER COSTS INCURRED BY HIM OR HIS AGENT WHICH ARE NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAWS AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE SHIPMENT OF HIS EFFECTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE.'

IN VIEW OF THE CONTROLLING STATUTORY AND REGULATORY PROVISIONS DISCUSSED ABOVE, WE FIND NO LEGAL BASIS TO REIMBURSE MRS. CARMICHAEL FOR THE TWO ITEMS OF STORAGE, AND THEREFORE, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.