B-164707, AUGUST 26, 1968, 48 COMP. GEN. 115

B-164707: Aug 26, 1968

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OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - HOUSE SALE - TRAILER AND LOT SALE THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE INDIVIDUAL SALE OF AN UNIMPROVED LOT AND OF AN UNATTACHED MOBILE HOME PLACED ON THE LOT AND USED AS LIVING QUARTERS ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE TO AN EMPLOYEE INCIDENT TO AN OFFICIAL CHANGE OF DUTY STATION. A-56 PROVIDES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES OF A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 2.4 OF THE CIRCULAR WHEN AN EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY IS CHANGED. ABSENT EVIDENCE THAT A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WAS AUTHORIZED AND PERFORMED. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE AN EMPLOYEE FOR THE COST OF A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP AND. TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - COMMUTATION - ACTUAL EXPENSES IN LIEU OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO INCIDENT TO AN OFFICIAL CHANGE-OF-DUTY STATION IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. 5724 (C) FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS MAY NOT BE PAID ON A MILEAGE BASIS IN LIEU OF THE COMMUTED RATE BASIS.

B-164707, AUGUST 26, 1968, 48 COMP. GEN. 115

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - HOUSE SALE - TRAILER AND LOT SALE THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE INDIVIDUAL SALE OF AN UNIMPROVED LOT AND OF AN UNATTACHED MOBILE HOME PLACED ON THE LOT AND USED AS LIVING QUARTERS ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE TO AN EMPLOYEE INCIDENT TO AN OFFICIAL CHANGE OF DUTY STATION, SECTION 9 OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 AND 5 U.S.C. 5724 (B) CONTEMPLATING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTING AND NOT THE SALE OF A MOBILE DWELLING, AND SECTION 4 OF THE CIRCULAR PROVIDING FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE DISPOSITION OF A DWELLING HOUSE AFFIXED TO LAND AND NOT FOR THE COSTS OF SELLING UNIMPROVED REAL ESTATE. OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - TRANSPORTATION FOR HOUSE HUNTING - AUTHORIZATION ALTHOUGH THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES OF A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 2.4 OF THE CIRCULAR WHEN AN EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY IS CHANGED, ABSENT EVIDENCE THAT A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WAS AUTHORIZED AND PERFORMED, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE AN EMPLOYEE FOR THE COST OF A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP AND, THEREFORE, UNDER HIS TRAVEL ORDERS HE MAY ONLY BE ALLOWED MILEAGE FOR THE ONE-WAY TRAVEL PERFORMED FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION. TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - COMMUTATION - ACTUAL EXPENSES IN LIEU OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO INCIDENT TO AN OFFICIAL CHANGE-OF-DUTY STATION IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. 5724 (C) FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS MAY NOT BE PAID ON A MILEAGE BASIS IN LIEU OF THE COMMUTED RATE BASIS. HOWEVER, THE EMPLOYEE HAVING FAILED TO OBTAIN THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF HIS GOODS AT THE TIME OF TRANSPORTATION, TO BE PAID AT THE COMMUTED RATE, HE MUST SHOW THE SPACE OCCUPIED BY THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND THAT THE GOODS WERE PROPERLY LOADED BY LISTING THE ITEMS SHIPPED AND SPACE OCCUPIED BY EACH ITEM. IF UNABLE TO ESTABLISH ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED PAYMENT, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED FOR GAS, OIL, TOLLS, ETC., TO THE EXTENT THE ACTUAL EXPENSES DO NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE TO HIM ON THE BASIS OF A REASONABLY APPROXIMATED ESTIMATED WEIGHT AT THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATE.

TO LUELLA S. HOWARD, DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AUGUST 26, 1968:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 25, 1968, FORWARDING FOR OUR ADVANCE DECISION THE TRAVEL VOUCHER OF MR. WOODROW E. MEEKS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, COVERING REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM FOR MILEAGE, THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND EFFECTS, THE SALE OF LAND, AND THE SALE OF HIS MOBILE HOME INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION FROM DOTHAN, ALABAMA, TO ALBANY, GEORGIA.

THE INFORMATION OF RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. MEEKS OWNED AN UNIMPROVED LOT ON WHICH WAS PARKED A TRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING WHICH HE USED AS LIVING QUARTERS. THE TRAILER AND THE LOT WERE SOLD TO THE SAME PERSON BUT IN DIFFERENT TRANSACTIONS ON DIFFERENT DATES. MR. MEEKS PAID A BROKER'S COMMISSION OF $150 FOR THE SALE OF THE LOT WHICH IS SAID TO BE THE MINIMUM COMMISSION ON UNIMPROVED PROPERTY IN HOUSTON COUNTY, ALABAMA. ALSO HE PAID $30 TO COVER THE COST OF TRANSFERRING THE LOAN ON THE TRAILER AND A RECORDING FEE, THE LEGAL TITLE TO THE TRAILER BEING IN THE PURCHASE FINANCER UNDER A CONDITIONAL BILL OF SALE. THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF MILEAGE ($57.50) CONSISTS OF SEVERAL TRIPS MADE TO TRANSFER HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND FOR A HOME HUNTING TRIP.

WHILE 5 U.S.C. 5724 (B) AND SECTION 9 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, CONTEMPLATE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTING A MOBILE DWELLING UPON TRANSFER OF AN EMPLOYEE TO A NEW OFFICIAL STATION NEITHER THE STATUTE NOR THE REGULATIONS EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF THE SALE OF A MOBILE DWELLING INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER OF STATION. IN THAT REGARD, H.REPT. NO. 1199, 89TH CONG., ON H.R. 10607, ENACTED AS PUBLIC LAW 89-516, IN DISCUSSING THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE SPECIFICALLY REFERS TO "REAL ESTATE.' (SEE PP. 6 AND 13.)

IF AUTHORIZED BY BUILDING REGULATIONS OR CONSTRUCTION CODES IN A GIVEN LOCALITY, OUR VIEW IS THAT A MOBILE DWELLING OR TRAILER MIGHT BE SO PERMANENTLY AFFIXED TO THE LAND BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FOUNDATION AND PERMANENT CONNECTIONS WITH UTILITIES SERVICES AS TO CONVERT A MOBILE DWELLING INTO A HOUSE WHICH COULD BE CONSIDERED AS REAL PROPERTY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF 5 U.S.C. 5724A (A) (4). IT COULD THUS CEASE TO BE A "MOBILE" DWELLING.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF RECORD OF SUCH A CONVERSION BY MR. MEEKS. FACT THE "TRANSFER OF EQUITY" BY MR. MEEKS OF HIS EQUITY IN THE MOBILE DWELLING EVIDENCED BY THE DOCUMENT OF RECORD DATED OCTOBER 21, 1967, ESTABLISHES THAT HE SOLD A MOBILE DWELLING, THE LEGAL TITLE TO WHICH WAS VESTED IN THE CAPITAL CITY MOBILE HOMES. FURTHER, CODE OF ALA., TIT. 51, SECTION 692, INCLUDES HOUSE TRAILERS AMONG "MOTOR VEHICLES" AND WE MUST CONCLUDE, THEREFORE, THAT THE MOBILE DWELLING IN THIS CASE WAS PERSONAL PROPERTY RATHER THAN REAL ESTATE.

CONSEQUENTLY, WE FIND NO AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO MR. MEEKS FOR THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF HIS MOBILE HOME.

ALSO, SINCE THERE WAS NO DWELLING HOUSE AFFIXED TO THE LAND OF THE LOT SOLD AT DOTHAN, ALABAMA, AS CONTEMPLATED BY SECTION 4 OF CIRCULAR NO. A- 56, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE MR. MEEKS THE COSTS OF SELLING THE UNIMPROVED REAL ESTATE OR A RESIDENCE.

THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET HAS PROVIDED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES COVERED BY PUBLIC LAW 89- 516, FOR EXAMPLE, THE EXPENSES OF HOUSE HUNTING TRIPS. AS INDICATED IN SECTION 2.4 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SUCH DISCRETION IS TO BE EXERCISED TO AVOID INCURRENCE OF UNNECESSARY REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES BY TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEES. SECTION 2.4 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 ALSO PROVIDES THAT AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL OF THE DEPARTMENT WHICH WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES FOR THE EMPLOYEE WILL MAKE THE DECISION AS TO WHETHER SUCH A TRIP WILL BE AUTHORIZED. THERE IS NOTHING OF RECORD TO SHOW THAT THE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP HAD BEEN AUTHORIZED. ON THE CONTRARY, IN SECTION 6 OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION TITLED "LIVING QUARTERS LOCATING TRIP," THERE IS AN X PLACED IN THE BOX MARKED "NO.' THEREFORE, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE THE CLAIMANT FOR THE COST OF THE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP. HOWEVER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TRAVEL ORDER, MILEAGE MAY BE ALLOWED FOR ONE-WAY TRAVEL OF THE EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION.

5 U.S.C. 5724 (C) PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE PRESIDENT MAY PRESCRIBE, AN EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSFERS BETWEEN POINTS INSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, INSTEAD OF BEING PAID FOR THE ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTING, PACKING, CRATING, TEMPORARILY STORING, DRAYING, AND UNPACKING OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS, SHALL BE REIMBURSED ON A COMMUTED BASIS AT THE RATES PER 100 POUNDS THAT ARE FIXED BY ZONES IN THE REGULATIONS. * * *

WE HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO SUBSTITUTE PAYMENTS ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR PAYMENT ON THE COMMUTED RATE BASIS PRESCRIBED IN THE CITED ACT. THEREFORE, THE EMPLOYEE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS EFFECTS.

WITH RESPECT TO REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM, SECTION 2.1G OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, APPLICABLE DURING THE PERIOD HERE INVOLVED PROVIDES, IN PART, AS OLLOWS:

DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED. IN SUPPORT OF CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM EMPLOYEES SHALL SUBMIT * * * THE ORIGINAL BILLS OF LADING OR CERTIFIED COPIES, OR, IF BILLS OF LADING ARE NOT AVAILABLE, OTHER EVIDENCE SHOWING POINT OF ORIGIN, DESTINATION, AND WEIGHT. IF NO ADEQUATE SCALE IS AVAILABLE, AT A POINT OF ORIGIN, AT ANY POINT EN ROUTE, OR AT DESTINATION, A CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT, BASED ON SEVEN POUNDS PER CUBIC FOOT OF PROPERTY LOADED VAN SPACE, MAY BE USED. * * *

UNDER THAT REGULATION THE WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING THE COMMUTED RATE OF PAYMENT ALLOWABLE MUST BE DETERMINED EITHER BY THE ACTUAL SCALE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS OR BY THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT OF SUCH GOODS DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF THE SPACE OCCUPIED WHEN PROPERLY LOADED FOR SHIPMENT IN A VAN.

SINCE THE EMPLOYEE FAILED TO OBTAIN THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE TIME OF TRANSPORTATION, HE MAY BE PAID AT THE COMMUTED RATE ONLY IF HE IS ABLE TO SHOW THE AMOUNT OF SPACE OCCUPIED BY HIS GOODS AND THAT THE GOODS WERE PROPERLY LOADED IN THE SPACE AVAILABLE. ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF SPACE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED BY HIS EFFECTS IF PROPERLY LOADED, THE EMPLOYEE MAY SUBMIT A LIST OF ITEMS TRANSPORTED TOGETHER WITH THE VOLUME OCCUPIED BY EACH BASED ON ACTUAL MEASUREMENT OR A UNIFORM TABLE, PREFERABLY PREPARED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER.

IF THE EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO ESTABLISH HIS ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED PAYMENT BY COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS LISTED ABOVE, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED SUCH AS FOR GAS, OIL, TOLLS, ETC., IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS UPON COMPLYING WITH THE RULE SET FORTH IN 38 COMP. GEN. 554, 555 AS FOLLOWS:

WHEN, HOWEVER, AS HERE, THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE AFFORDS A BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE GOODS SHIPPED REASONABLY APPROXIMATES THE ESTIMATED WEIGHT, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES TO THE EXTENT THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE FOR SUCH ESTIMATED WEIGHT AT THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATES.

THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.