B-166932, AUG. 6, 1969

B-166932: Aug 6, 1969

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AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WAS TRANSFERRED FROM SAN FRANCISCO. HE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY HIS WIFE AND TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN. ON 12 JUNE 1968 TRAVEL ORDER NUMBER 0458-03 WAS ISSUED WHICH AUTHORIZED THE EARLY RETURN OF MR. THE TRAVEL ORDER SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED THAT THE TRANSPORTATION FOR THE TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN AND SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS AUTHORIZED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT MR. BARTEL AND HIS WIFE WERE LEGALLY DIVORCED. THE WIFE WAS AWARDED CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN. THE CHILDREN WERE GRANTED TITLE TO THE FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS. "THE CLAIM WAS INITIALLY DISALLOWED ON THE BASIS THAT MR. BARTEL'S CHILDREN WERE NOT MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AT THE TIME TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED.

B-166932, AUG. 6, 1969

CIVIL PAY - DEPENDENT TRANSPORTATION DECISION TO CERTIFYING OFFICER OF FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION AUTHORIZING CERTIFICATION OF VOUCHER FOR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF CHILDREN FROM ALASKA TO SAN FRANCISCO ON THE BASIS THAT EMPLOYEE'S DIVORCE DID NOT EXTINGUISH ENTITLEMENT.

TO MR. R. J. SCHULLERY:

YOUR UNDATED LETTER RECEIVED HERE MAY 12, 1969, REQUESTS A DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT THE CLAIM OF MR. CARL BARTEL FOR EXPENSES INCURRED FOR TRAVEL OF HIS CHILDREN FROM ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, BETWEEN JULY 24 AND AUGUST 14, 1968. YOUR LETTER STATES:

"MR. BARTEL, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WAS TRANSFERRED FROM SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA TO ANCHORAGE, ALASKA IN DECEMBER 1966. HE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY HIS WIFE AND TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN. THE TERMS OF THE EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT PROVIDED FOR RETURN TRANSPORTATION OF THE EMPLOYEE, DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UPON COMPLETION OF 24 MONTHS SERVICE IN ALASKA. ON 12 JUNE 1968 TRAVEL ORDER NUMBER 0458-03 WAS ISSUED WHICH AUTHORIZED THE EARLY RETURN OF MR. BARTEL'S TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. THE TRAVEL ORDER SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED THAT THE TRANSPORTATION FOR THE TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN AND SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS AUTHORIZED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT MR. BARTEL WOULD NOT BE ENTITLED TO THESE BENEFITS WHEN HE EXERCISED HIS RETURN RIGHTS.

"ON 28 JUNE 1968 MR. BARTEL AND HIS WIFE WERE LEGALLY DIVORCED. THE WIFE WAS AWARDED CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN, AND THE CHILDREN WERE GRANTED TITLE TO THE FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS.

"THE FORMER MRS. BARTEL ACCOMPANIED BY THE TWO DEPENDENT CHILDREN OF MR. BARTEL, DEPARTED FROM ALASKA FOR THE CONTINENTAL U.S., ON 24 JULY 1968.

"THE CLAIM WAS INITIALLY DISALLOWED ON THE BASIS THAT MR. BARTEL'S CHILDREN WERE NOT MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AT THE TIME TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED. THERE IS ALSO DOUBT AS TO WHETHER THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS CAN LEGALLY BE SHIPPED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE SINCE THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE THE PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEE'S CHILDREN ON THE DATE OF SHIPMENT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE SHIPPED ON GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING NUMBER C-8582359, A COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED.

"THE BASIS FOR OUR DOUBT AS TO MR. BARTEL'S ENTITLEMENT TO TRANSPORTATION FOR DEPENDENT CHILDREN AND SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IS COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECISION B-155716, DATED 2 FEBRUARY 1965 (44 CG 443). IN THAT DECISION IT WAS HELD THAT AN OVERSEAS EMPLOYEE WHO WAS DIVORCED WAS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED FOR THE RETURN TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES OF HIS FIRST (DIVORCED) WIFE AND CHILDREN SINCE THE EMPLOYEE HAD NOT COMPLETED THE AGREED UPON PERIOD OF OVERSEAS SERVICE AT THE TIME OF THE DEPENDENTS' RETURN.

"WHILE MR. BARTEL'S CASE IS ANALOGOUS TO THE CASE CITED IN THE ABOVE REFERRED TO DECISION, WE BELIEVE THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, DATED 12 OCTOBER 1966 HE MAY BE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF HIS DEPENDENT CHILDREN AND SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM ANCHORAGE, ALASKA TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. SECTION 1.2D OF THE CIRCULAR DEFINES -IMMEDIATE FAMILY- AS MEANING, -ANY OF THE FOLLOWING NAMED MEMBERS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD AT THE TIME HE REPORTS FOR DUTY AT HIS NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATION: SPOUSE, CHILDREN ...-"

WE UNDERSTAND THAT TRAVEL ORDER NO. 0458-03 OF JUNE 12, 1968, AUTHORIZED THE RETURN TRANSPORTATION OF MR. BARTEL'S CHILDREN AND THE SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS TO CALIFORNIA AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST AS PROVIDED FOR IN 5 U.S.C. 5729 (A) (2). BEFORE SUCH TRANSPORTATION COULD BE PERFORMED, HOWEVER, THE DIVORCE OF MR. BARTEL AND HIS WIFE OCCURRED ON JUNE 28, 1969, WITH CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN AWARDED TO THE WIFE AND TITLE OF THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS PURPORTEDLY GRANTED TO THE CHILDREN.

SECTION 1.2D OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 AS AMENDED BY TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 2 OF JULY 17, 1967, DEFINES "IMMEDIATE FAMILY" AS MEANING "ANY OF THE FOLLOWING NAMED MEMBERS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD AT THE TIME HE REPORTS FOR DUTY AT HIS NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATION OR PERFORMS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED HOME LEAVE OR SEPARATION TRAVEL: SPOUSE, CHILDREN * * *.'

WE FIND NO LANGUAGE IN THE REGULATIONS PRECLUDING RETURN AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S MINOR CHILDREN IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST SOLELY BECAUSE THEY MAY NOT HAVE BEEN MEMBERS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD AT THE TIME OF THEIR RETURN. AS TO THE EMPLOYEE'S ENTITLEMENT TO SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE (PRESUMABLY COST THEREOF ALREADY PAID TO CARRIER BECAUSE OF USE OF GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING), YOU ARE ADVISED THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS PARTICULAR CASE, THE TRANSPORTATION OF SUCH EFFECTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE REASONABLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE STATUTES AND REGULATIONS.

THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.