B-167385, SEPTEMBER 2, 1969, 49 COMP. GEN. 145

B-167385: Sep 2, 1969

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IS ADVISED NOT TO MOVE TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION IN ANTICIPATION OF A REARRANGEMENT OF TERRITORIES. A PLAN WHICH WAS NOT ACCOMPLISHED DUE TO BUDGETARY RESTRICTIONS. 1969: THIS IS IN REPLY TO LETTER OF JUNE 27. WAS SELECTED FOR TRAINING AND SUBSEQUENTLY GIVEN A PERMANENT APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 17. ACCOMPANYING THE POD FORM 50 PROMOTING HIM WAS A LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR. IT IS HOPED THAT BY JANUARY THE TERRITORIES CAN BE ARRANGED TO BEST SUIT THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE. YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM WHEN IN BATON ROUGE. AS THAT IS YOUR OFFICIAL DUTY STATION. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN ALEXANDRIA SINCE THAT IS YOUR RESIDENCE.

B-167385, SEPTEMBER 2, 1969, 49 COMP. GEN. 145

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT -- EMPLOYEES -- TRANSFERS -- TRANSPORTATION AND RELOCATION EXPENSES -- EFFECT OF DELAYED AUTHORIZATION A POSTAL EMPLOYEE WHO UPON APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 17, 1966, AFTER A TRAINING PERIOD DURING WHICH HE HAD BEEN PAID PER DIEM, IS ADVISED NOT TO MOVE TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION IN ANTICIPATION OF A REARRANGEMENT OF TERRITORIES--A PLAN WHICH WAS NOT ACCOMPLISHED DUE TO BUDGETARY RESTRICTIONS--MAY NOT NEARLY 3 YEARS AFTER PROMOTION BE AUTHORIZED THE TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, AND THE BENEFITS OF PUBLIC LAW 89 516, AS THE TIME LIMITATIONS PERTAINING TO THE MOVEMENT OF DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, AND THE REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE SALE OF A DWELLING AT A FORMER STATION CONTAINED IN BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, MAY NOT BE WAIVED--THE CIRCULAR A STATUTORY REGULATION HAVING THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF LAW.

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 2, 1969:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO LETTER OF JUNE 27, 1969, FROM THE REGIONAL COUNSEL, DALLAS REGIONAL OFFICE, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, REFERENCE 10 RC:JRS:CB, REQUESTING OUR OPINION AS TO THE ELIGIBILITY OF MR. ROBERT C. WILFONG, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT, FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRANSFER EXPENSES UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES STATED BELOW.

MR. WILFONG, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE POST OFFICE IN ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, WAS SELECTED FOR TRAINING AND SUBSEQUENTLY GIVEN A PERMANENT APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 17, 1966. ACCOMPANYING THE POD FORM 50 PROMOTING HIM WAS A LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR, POSTAL SERVICE OFFICERS, DALLAS REGIONAL OFFICE, WHICH READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

AS DISCUSSED WITH YOU OVER THE TELEPHONE, ALTHOUGH THE FORM 50 SHOWS BATON ROUGE AS YOUR DUTY STATION, YOU SHOULD MAKE NO PLANS AT THIS TIME TO MOVE. IT IS HOPED THAT BY JANUARY THE TERRITORIES CAN BE ARRANGED TO BEST SUIT THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE, AND THAT I CAN ADVISE YOU DEFINITELY OF YOUR PERMANENT DOMICLE.

BEGINNING DECEMBER 17, YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM WHEN IN BATON ROUGE, AS THAT IS YOUR OFFICIAL DUTY STATION, AND YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN ALEXANDRIA SINCE THAT IS YOUR RESIDENCE.

IN THIS REGARD THE RECORD INDICATES THAT UNDER EXISTING POLICY IT IS NOT CUSTOMARY TO DOMICILE A POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER IN HIS "HOME OFFICE" OR THE TERRITORY IN WHICH THAT OFFICE IS LOCATED.

MR. WILFONG HAS LIVED AND WORKED AWAY FROM HIS RESIDENCE SINCE JULY 1965, WHEN HE WAS APPOINTED AS A TRAINEE, AND HAS NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AT BATON ROUGE SINCE DECEMBER 16, 1966. MR. WILFONG HAS REQUESTED PERMISSION TO MOVE TO BATON ROUGE AND STATES THAT THE PRESENT SITUATION IS WORKING A FINANCIAL AND PERSONAL HARDSHIP ON HIM. THE DALLAS REGIONAL OFFICE IS CONSIDERING GRANTING HIS REQUEST INASMUCH AS IT IS PRESENTLY INTENDED THAT HE REMAIN AT HIS PRESENT JOB AND PRESENT DUTY STATION INDEFINITELY. YOUR REGIONAL OFFICE COUNSEL ASKS WHETHER MR. WILFONG MAY BE AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF HIS DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND THE BENEFITS OF PUBLIC LAW 89-516, 5 U.S.C. 5724A, IF HIS REQUEST IS GRANTED. IN THIS CONNECTION HE POINTS OUT THAT THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WOULD NOT BE WITHIN 2 YEARS AFTER THE DATE OF HIS TRANSFER, AND THAT EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE SALE OF HIS RESIDENCE WOULD BE INCURRED MORE THAN 12 MONTHS AFTER HIS TRANSFER.

AN EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL OR PERMANENT DUTY STATION IS THE PLACE AT WHICH HE ACTUALLY IS STATIONED; THAT IS, THE PLACE WHERE THE EMPLOYEE EXPECTS, AND IS EXPECTED, TO SPEND THE GREATER PART OF HIS TIME ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. 32 COMP. GEN. 87, 88 (1952).

IN THE INSTANT CASE MR. WILFONG WAS SPECIFICALLY ADVISED NOT TO MOVE TO BATON ROUGE AT THE TIME OF HIS APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER; ALSO HE WAS NOT ISSUED TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ORDERS. THE REASONS FOR SUCH ACTION ARE REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN (1) MR. WILFONG'S DESIRE NOT TO MOVE TO BATON ROUGE AT THE TIME OF HIS TRANSFER AND (2) PLANS OF THE DALLAS REGIONAL OFFICE TO INCREASE THE POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER COMPLEMENT AND REARRANGE THE TERRITORIES TO ACHIEVE A BETTER BALANCED LOAD. DUE TO BUDGETARY RESTRICTIONS, IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO CARRY OUT SUCH PLANS.

THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT ADVISES THAT SUBSEQUENT TO HIS ASSIGNMENT TO BATON ROUGE, MR. WILFONG PERFORMED THE MAJOR PORTION OF HIS DUTIES IN THE TERRITORY ASSOCIATED WITH THE BATON ROUGE DOMICILE. THIS TERRITORY DOES NOT INCLUDE THE ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, OFFICE. UNTIL HE WAS PROMOTED TO PFS-15 IN JULY 1968, MR. WILFONG WAS TECHNICALLY IN A TRAINING STATUS. HOWEVER, THE RECORD ALSO SHOWS THAT SINCE JULY 1966, HE HAS HAD FULL POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER TERRITORIAL RESPONSIBILITIES.

ON THE BASIS OF THE ENTIRE RECORD AND IN LINE WITH 32 COMP. GEN. 87, CITED ABOVE, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT BATON ROUGE HAS BEEN MR. WILFONG'S DOMICILE, WHICH TERM IS USED IN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT INTERCHANGEABLY FOR "STATION," SINCE HIS PERMANENT APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF POSTAL SERVICE OFFICER ON DECEMBER 17, 1966.

THE TIME LIMITATIONS PERTAINING TO THE TRANSPORTATION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND THE REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE SALE OF A DWELLING AT THE EMPLOYEE'S FORMER STATION ARE CONTAINED IN BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SECTIONS U.3D AND 4.1E (FORMERLY 4.1D). THE CIRCULAR IS A STATUTORY REGULATION WHICH HAS THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF LAW AND, THEREFORE, THE TIME LIMITATIONS THEREIN MAY NOT BE WAIVED IN AN INDIVIDUAL CASE.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE MR. WILFONG MAY NOT BE AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF HIS DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES OF A SALE OF HIS HOME IN ALEXANDRIA, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE TIME LIMITATIONS APPLICABLE THERETO, IN CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER FROM ALEXANDRIA TO BATON ROUGE.