B-159213, JUN. 22, 1966

B-159213: Jun 22, 1966

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SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 17. RETURN DURING JUNE 1965 TO INQUIRE ABOUT HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHICH WAS DISALLOWED. PLUS $100 CLAIMED FOR AUTHORIZED LOCAL TRAVEL IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WHICH WAS DEDUCTED BY THE AGENCY FROM ANOTHER VOUCHER FOR APPLICATION TO MR. IT WAS ALSO AGREED THAT UPON FAILURE TO FULFILL THE AGREEMENT MR. IT IS REPORTED THAT MR. WHICH WAS TAX FREE. SHERIDAN NEVER RETURNED TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS BUT REMAINED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL A POSITION BECAME AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON TO WHICH HE WAS APPOINTED AROUND AUGUST 1. HE POINTED OUT THAT FOOD AND UTILITIES WERE VERY EXPENSIVE. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HE FELT THAT HIS RETURN WAS FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

B-159213, JUN. 22, 1966

TO AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 17, 1966, ASKING OUR OFFICE TO ADVISE WHETHER A VOUCHER FOR TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES IN FAVOR OF MR. JOHN J. SHERIDAN, AN EMPLOYEE OF SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $258.50. THIS VOUCHER INCLUDES THE SUM OF $158.50 REPRESENTING THE COST OF MR. SHERIDAN'S TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION FROM ST. THOMAS, VIRGIN ISLANDS, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND RETURN DURING JUNE 1965 TO INQUIRE ABOUT HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHICH WAS DISALLOWED, PLUS $100 CLAIMED FOR AUTHORIZED LOCAL TRAVEL IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WHICH WAS DEDUCTED BY THE AGENCY FROM ANOTHER VOUCHER FOR APPLICATION TO MR. SHERIDAN'S INDEBTEDNESS OF $159.45, THE COST OF HIS INITIAL TRAVEL TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN MR. SHERIDAN AND THE SBA, DATED MAY 19, 1965, PROVIDED THAT THE COSTS OF HIS TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS INCIDENT TO A CHANGE IN DUTY STATION WOULD BE BORNE BY THE AGENCY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT HE WOULD REMAIN THERE 24 MONTHS. IT WAS ALSO AGREED THAT UPON FAILURE TO FULFILL THE AGREEMENT MR. SHERIDAN WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER.

IT IS REPORTED THAT MR. SHERIDAN DEPARTED WASHINGTON FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS ON MAY 23, 1965, TO TAKE OVER THE POSITION OF PROGRAM MANAGER, GRADE GS-13-9, WITH A PER ANNUM SALARY OF $15,435, AND A COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE OF 15 PERCENT, REDUCED TO 5 PERCENT ON JULY 1, 1965, WHICH WAS TAX FREE. HE RETURNED TO WASHINGTON IN JUNE 1965, PURPORTEDLY TO ARRANGE FOR MOVING HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS FROM VIRGINIA TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND ASSERTED THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE TRIP HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN DISCUSSED IN WASHINGTON. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. SHERIDAN ADVISED OFFICIALS OF THE SBA WHILE IN WASHINGTON ON THIS TRIP OF THE HIGH COST OF LIVING IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND SOUGHT A POSITION WITH SBA AT HEADQUARTERS. UNDERSTAND INFORMALLY THAT MR. SHERIDAN NEVER RETURNED TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS BUT REMAINED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL A POSITION BECAME AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON TO WHICH HE WAS APPOINTED AROUND AUGUST 1, 1965.

IN A LETTER OF EXPLANATION ACCOMPANYING THE VOUCHER MR. SHERIDAN EXPLAINED THAT HIS TAKE HOME PAY AMOUNTED TO $930 PLUS $64 COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE; ALSO, THAT SHELTER AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES AMOUNTED TO $650- $700, LEAVING ONLY $344-$294 TO MEET OTHER EXPENSES. HE POINTED OUT THAT FOOD AND UTILITIES WERE VERY EXPENSIVE. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HE FELT THAT HIS RETURN WAS FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

THE AUTHORIZATION FOR TRAVEL, DATED JUNE 7, 1965, DIRECTING MR. SHERIDAN'S TRAVEL FROM THE VIRGIN ISLANDS TO WASHINGTON ON OR ABOUT JUNE 19, 1965, WAS FOR THE STATED PURPOSE OF CARING FOR MATTERS RELATED TO THE CHANGE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION FROM WASHINGTON TO ST. THOMAS. THE AUTHORIZING OFFICER, MR. ANTONIO YORDAN, STATES THAT MR. SHERIDAN TOLD HIM THAT HE HAD BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE WASHINGTON OFFICE TO RETURN TO WASHINGTON ON JUNE 18 TO TAKE CARE OF SHIPPING HIS BELONGINGS TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS. THE AGENCY DISALLOWED MR. SHERIDAN'S CLAIM FOR THE ABOVE TRAVEL APPARENTLY BECAUSE IT WAS NOT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. SECTION 1.4 STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS; SEE 19 COMP. GEN. 658; B 57426, MAY 16, 1946; B-121118, MARCH 22, 1955. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT THE CLAIMANT NOW DESIRES TO HAVE SUCH TRAVEL REGARDED AS A RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

THE AGREEMENT PREVIOUSLY REFERRED TO WAS DRAWN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 73B 3, WHICH AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF OF EMPLOYEES IN HIS CATEGORY TO AND FROM POSTS OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. THAT ACT PROVIDES IN PART:

"* * * THAT SUCH EXPENSES OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION TO POSTS OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED UNLESS AND UNTIL THE PERSON SELECTED FOR APPOINTMENT SHALL AGREE IN WRITING TO REMAIN IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE FOR TWELVE MONTHS FOLLOWING HIS APPOINTMENT, UNLESS SEPARATED FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL AND ACCEPTABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED AND IN CASE OF VIOLATION OF SUCH AGREEMENT ANY MONEYS EXPENDED BY THE UNITED STATES ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION SHALL BE RECOVERABLE FROM THE INDIVIDUAL CONCERNED AS A DEBT DUE THE UNITED STATES: AND PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT EXPENSES OF RETURN TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION UPON SEPARATION FROM THE SERVICE SHALL BE ALLOWED WHETHER SUCH SEPARATION IS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE GOVERNMENT OR FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE, BUT SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED UNLESS SUCH PERSONS SELECTED FOR APPOINTMENT OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES SHALL HAVE SERVED FOR A MINIMUM PERIOD OF NOT LESS THAN ONE NOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS PRESCRIBED IN ADVANCE BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED OR UNLESS SEPARATION IS FOR REASONS BEYOND THE CONTROL OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND ACCEPTABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED. * * *"

IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS IN SECTION 1.5 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 ARE TO THE SAME EFFECT AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * IN CASE OF VIOLATION OF SUCH AGREEMENT ANY MONEY EXPENDED BY THE UNITED STATES ON ACCOUNT OF THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION SHALL BE RECOVERABLE FROM THE INDIVIDUAL CONCERNED AS A DEBT DUE THE UNITED STATES. * * *"

FURTHERMORE, MR. SHERIDAN'S AGREEMENT WITH THE SBA CONTAINED THE FOLLOWING PROVISION:

"IN THE EVENT YOU FAIL TO FULFILL THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, ANY MONEY EXPENDED BY THE SBA ON ACCOUNT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION SHALL BE RECOVERABLE FROM YOU AS A DEBT OWED THE UNITED STATES. HOWEVER, IF YOU ARE SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF THE PERIOD OF SERVICE SPECIFIED ABOVE FOR REASONS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL AND ACCEPTABLE TO THE SBA, THE COST OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION WILL BE PAID BY SBA.'

BY LETTER OF JUNE 6, 1966, THE DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PERSONNEL, SBA HAS ADVISED US THAT MR. SHERIDAN'S RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES WAS FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE. MOREOVER, THERE HAS BEEN NO DETERMINATION BY THE SBA THAT MR. SHERIDAN'S RETURN TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES WAS FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL AND ACCEPTABLE TO THE AGENCY. IN VIEW THEREOF, WE ARE REQUIRED TO HOLD THAT UNDER THE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS AS WELL AS THE TERMS OF MR. SHERIDAN'S AGREEMENT WITH THE AGENCY HE IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF RETURN EXPENSES TO WASHINGTON IN JUNE 1965, AND ALSO MUST BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE EXPENSES OF HIS TRANSFER TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS IN MAY 1965.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING THE VOUCHER, WITH ACCOMPANYING PAPERS, IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.