B-168975, APR. 17, 1970

B-168975: Apr 17, 1970

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TO CONSTRUCT RESIDENCE AT NEW STATION IS AFFIRMED ABSENT APPLICABILITY OF "LITIGATION" EXCEPTION TO 1- YEAR LIMITATION FOR ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSE PROVIDED IN BUR. CONTROLLING DATE FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SAID TIME LIMITATION IS DATE COMPLETED RESIDENCE IS ACCEPTED AND EMPLOYEE MOVES IN. WHICH HERE DID NOT OCCUR WITHIN LIMITATION PERIOD NOR WAS TRANSACTION OTHERWISE CONSUMMATED. THE SETTLEMENT DATES FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE OR LEASE TERMINATION TRANSACTIONS FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS REQUESTED ARE NOT LATER THAN ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE ON WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REPORTED FOR DUTY AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION. EXCEPT THAT AN APPROPRIATE EXTENSION OF TIME MAY BE AUTHORIZED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR HIS DESIGNEE WHEN SETTLEMENT IS NECESSARILY DELAYED BECAUSE OF LITIGATION.".

B-168975, APR. 17, 1970

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES--TRANSFERS--RELOCATION EXPENSES--"SETTLEMENT DATE" LIMITATION ON PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS--WHAT CONSTITUTES LITIGATION SETTLEMENT DENYING REIMBURSEMENT OF LOAN COSTS INCURRED ON SEPT. 4, 1968 BY EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED ON NOV. 3, 1966, TO CONSTRUCT RESIDENCE AT NEW STATION IS AFFIRMED ABSENT APPLICABILITY OF "LITIGATION" EXCEPTION TO 1- YEAR LIMITATION FOR ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSE PROVIDED IN BUR. OF BUDGET CIR. NO. A-56, "LITIGATION" MEANING SUIT AT LAW. ALTHOUGH LOT PURCHASE AND RESIDENCE CONSTRUCTION MAY CONSTITUTE SINGLE TRANSACTION, CONTROLLING DATE FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SAID TIME LIMITATION IS DATE COMPLETED RESIDENCE IS ACCEPTED AND EMPLOYEE MOVES IN, WHICH HERE DID NOT OCCUR WITHIN LIMITATION PERIOD NOR WAS TRANSACTION OTHERWISE CONSUMMATED. SEE COMP. GEN. DECS. CITED. WORDS AND PHRASES-- "LITIGATION" INCIDENT TO EXCEPTION TO 1-YEAR REQUIREMENT FOR ELIGIBILITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES IN SEC. 4.1D, BUR. OF BUDGET CIR. NO. A-56, REVISED OCT. 12, 1966, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE HAS CONSISTENTLY CONSTRUED TERM "LITIGATION" AS MEANING CONTEST IN COURT FOR PURPOSE OF ENFORCING A RIGHT; A SUIT AT LAW. SEE B-166268, MAR. 27, 1969.

TO MR. BARROIS A. HOWARD:

YOUR LETTERS POSTMARKED JANUARY 4 AND 21, 1970, REQUEST INFORMATION CONCERNING OUR SETTLEMENT DATED NOVEMBER 26, 1969, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU ON SEPTEMBER 4, 1968, IN OBTAINING LOANS TO FINANCE YOUR CONSTRUCTION OF A RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF YOUR PERMANENT DUTY STATION FROM ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, TO DAHLGREN, VIRGINIA, EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 3, 1966.

WE REFER FIRST TO YOUR QUESTION ABOUT THE EXCEPTION TO THE ONE-YEAR REQUIREMENT FOR ELIGIBILITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES CONTAINED IN SECTION 4.1D OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, EFFECTIVE JULY 21, 1966, WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"D. THE SETTLEMENT DATES FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE OR LEASE TERMINATION TRANSACTIONS FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS REQUESTED ARE NOT LATER THAN ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE ON WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REPORTED FOR DUTY AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION, EXCEPT THAT AN APPROPRIATE EXTENSION OF TIME MAY BE AUTHORIZED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR HIS DESIGNEE WHEN SETTLEMENT IS NECESSARILY DELAYED BECAUSE OF LITIGATION."

WE CONSISTENTLY HAVE CONSTRUED THE ABOVE TERM "LITIGATION" AS MEANING A CONTEST IN COURT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENFORCING A RIGHT; A SUIT AT LAW. SEE THE ENCLOSED COPY OF OUR DECISION B-166268 DATED MARCH 27, 1969.

THE TWO-YEAR PERIOD, ALSO MENTIONED BY YOU, IS CONTAINED IN SECTION 1.3D OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"D. TIME LIMITS FOR TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION. ALL TRAVEL, INCLUDING THAT FOR THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY, AND TRANSPORTATION, INCLUDING THAT FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS ALLOWED UNDER THESE REGULATIONS, SHOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE MAXIMUM TIME FOR BEGINNING ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION SHALL NOT EXCEED TWO YEARS FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S TRANSFER OR APPOINTMENT * * *."

CIRCULAR NO. A-56 WAS REPRINTED AS PART III OF APPENDIX A, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, VOLUME 2, CIVILIAN PERSONNEL, CHANGE 19, DATED DECEMBER 1, 1966.

AS TO YOUR HAVING INITIATED YOUR CONSTRUCTION LOAN WITHIN A YEAR AFTER NOVEMBER 3, 1966, YOUR STATEMENT DATED DECEMBER 27, 1968, WHICH ACCOMPANIED YOUR CLAIM, IS AS FOLLOWS:

"I PURCHASED A LOT IN WESTWOOD ADDITION OF FREDERICKSBURG ON 14 MAY 1967. I WAS MY OWN CONTRACTOR FOR THE BUILDING. I ALSO DID THE BLOCK WORK ON THE BASEMENT WALLS, WHICH I HAD FINISHED BY THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST. THE BRICKLAYER KEPT PUTTING ME OFF AND IT WAS NOVEMBER BEFORE HE CAME TO LAY THE BRICKS AND BLOCK FOR THE FIRST FLOOR. BY CHRISTMAS OF 1967, HE HAD COMPLETED THE SHELL OF THE HOUSE. I HAD THE ROOF ON BY THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY, AND HAD CONTRACTED FOR THE ELECTRICAL WORK. I PUT UP ALL THE WALLBOARD AND HAD TAPED IT BY THE LAST OF MARCH. DOING ALL THIS WORK MYSELF STRETCHED OUT THE TIME REQUIRED. THE CARPENTRY WORK DRAGGED OUT TIME WISE, AS THE CARPENTER HAD HIS REGULAR CONTRACT WORK FOR DAYTIME EMPLOYMENT AND WAS DOING MINE ON SATURDAYS AND NIGHTS. IT ALSO TURNED OUT THAT I DID ABOUT THREE FOURTHS OF THE CARPENTRY WORK, WHICH EXTENDED THE TIME. THEN THE ELECTRICIAN QUIT ME, AND I SPENT ANOTHER MONTH OR MORE FIGURING OUT HIS CIRCUITS AND FINISHING THE WIRING OF THE HOUSE. LAYING THE FLOORS AND PAINTING TOOK ANOTHER COUPLE OR THREE MONTHS, AND IT WAS THE LAST OF SEPTEMBER 1968 BEFORE EXPENSES COULD BE CALCULATED FOR FILING THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

"THE ESTIMATES FOR THE HOUSE WERE ONLY ABOUT HALF ENOUGH, SO THE CONSTRUCTION LOAN WAS FOR $20,000. AS IT NEARED COMPLETION IT LOOKED LIKE $26,000 WOULD DO IT SO THEN THE CONSTRUCTION LOAN WAS CONVERTED FOR THAT AMOUNT. LATER THE LOAN WAS RAISED TO $29,000, AND I HOPE TO SOON HAVE THE HOUSE COMPLETED. IT IS PRACTICALLY DONE ON THE INSIDE NOW. ADDITIONAL EXPENSES WILL BE HANDLED FROM MY PAYCHECK.

"THE FREDERICKSBURG SAVINGS AND LOAN REQUIRED THAT THERE BE A CONSTRUCTION LOAN AND A CONVERSION LOAN."

WE HAVE HELD THAT ALTHOUGH THE PURCHASE OF A LOT AND CONSTRUCTION OF A RESIDENCE THEREON MAY BE VIEWED AS A SINGLE TRANSACTION, THE CONTROLLING DATE IN GENERAL FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE TIME LIMITATION OF CIRCULAR NO. A- 56 IS THE DATE THE COMPLETED RESIDENCE IS ACCEPTED AND THE EMPLOYEE MOVES INTO THE SAME. B-166317 DATED MAY 9, 1969, B-165577 DATED JANUARY 6, 1969, AND B-165544 DATED APRIL 22, 1969 (COPIES ENCLOSED). THE RECORD BEFORE US FAILS TO CONTAIN ANY INDICATION THAT YOU HAD COMPLETED ENOUGH OF YOUR HOUSE TO MOVE INTO IT BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE ONE-YEAR PERIOD OR OTHERWISE HAD CONSUMMATED THE TRANSACTION. ACCORDINGLY, WE SEE NO BASIS FOR ALLOWANCE OF ANY OF THE EXPENSES OF THE INITIAL $20,000 CONSTRUCTION LOAN WHICH YOU SAY WAS MADE WITHIN THE ONE-YEAR PERIOD.

YOU FURTHER INQUIRE ABOUT A TRIP BY YOUR WIFE TO LOOK FOR A HOUSE AT YOUR NEW STATION. YOU SAY YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE PAID FOR SUCH A TRIP BUT THIS WAS DENIED ADMINISTRATIVELY. SECTION 2.4A OF CIRCULAR NO. A 56 PROVIDES IN PART THAT PAYMENT OF SUCH TRAVEL EXPENSES MAY BE AUTHORIZED UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE DISCRETION OF THE AGENCY CONCERNED. OUR FILE CONTAINS NO INFORMATION IN REGARD THERETO. HOWEVER, WE ASSUME THIS ITEM WAS DENIED BECAUSE YOU WERE NEVER PROPERLY AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM SUCH A TRIP. IN THIS RESPECT, SEE THE ENCLOSED COPIES OF OFFICE DECISIONS B-163790 DATED MAY 3, 1968, AND B-166977 DATED JUNE 18, 1969.

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1970, ALSO ASKS US ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF AN INVESTIGATION OF THE COST OF PROPELLANT ACCEPTANCE TESTING IN BOTH THE ARMY AND THE NAVY. THE INFORMATION YOU GIVE IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR US TO IDENTIFY THE MATTER. IF YOU COULD FURNISH MORE DETAILED FACTS, DATES AND OTHER PARTICULARS, WE MAY BE ABLE TO SUPPLY THE INFORMATION THAT YOU REQUEST.