B-169471, NOV. 13, 1970

B-169471: Nov 13, 1970

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WAS UNABLE TO FIND RENTAL HOUSING SO THAT HE HAD TO COMMUTE WEEKLY TO HIS HOME IN GARDEN CITY. WHEN HE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM BOSTON TO ALEXANDRIA. MAY NOT HAVE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SALE OF GARDEN CITY HOME ON AUGUST 20. THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS APPLICABLE REGULATIONS INVOLVED IN YOUR CLAIM WERE STATED IN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF JUNE 10. THAT YOUR APPOINTMENT TO THE VA HOSPITAL IN BOSTON WAS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF RECEIVING TRAINING WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS TO BE OF 3 MONTHS DURATION BUT WAS EXTENDED. THAT AT THE END OF SUCH TRAINING YOU WERE TO BE PERMANENTLY ASSIGNED ELSEWHERE. SINCE NO ONE WAS ABLE TO INFORM YOU OF A DATE ON WHICH YOU WOULD BE ASSIGNED FROM THE BOSTON AREA YOU CONTINUED TO COMMUTE.

B-169471, NOV. 13, 1970

TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE - RELOCATION EXPENSES - SALE OF HOME AT OTHER THAN OLD STATION SUSTAINING DISALLOWANCE OF CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF V.A. DOCTOR FROM BOSTON TO ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA. V.A. DOCTOR WHO, WHEN APPOINTED AND ASSIGNED TO BOSTON FOR TRAINING, WAS UNABLE TO FIND RENTAL HOUSING SO THAT HE HAD TO COMMUTE WEEKLY TO HIS HOME IN GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK, FROM NOVEMBER 8, 1967, UNTIL OCTOBER 1968, WHEN HE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM BOSTON TO ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, MAY NOT HAVE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SALE OF GARDEN CITY HOME ON AUGUST 20, 1969, CONSIDERED REIMBURSABLE SINCE ONLY EXCEPTION TO SALE OF RESIDENCE AT OTHER THAN DUTY STATION HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED AS IN A REMOTE AREA WHERE ADEQUATE HOUSING DOES NOT EXIST AND BOSTON DOES NOT FALL IN THAT CATEGORY SO THAT HOME IN GARDEN CITY COULD BE CONSIDERED EMBRACED IN OFFICIAL STATION AT BOSTON.

TO GERALD T. LILLY, M. D.:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 8, 1970, REQUESTING REVIEW OF OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF JUNE 10, 1970, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU INCIDENT TO YOUR CHANGE OF STATION FROM BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, TO ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, IN OCTOBER 1968, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION (VA).

THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS APPLICABLE REGULATIONS INVOLVED IN YOUR CLAIM WERE STATED IN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF JUNE 10, 1970, AND NEED NOT BE REPEATED HERE. HOWEVER, IN YOUR RECENT LETTER YOU STATE, IN ESSENCE, THAT YOUR APPOINTMENT TO THE VA HOSPITAL IN BOSTON WAS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF RECEIVING TRAINING WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS TO BE OF 3 MONTHS DURATION BUT WAS EXTENDED; THAT AT THE END OF SUCH TRAINING YOU WERE TO BE PERMANENTLY ASSIGNED ELSEWHERE; AND THAT YOU CANVASSED EXTENSIVELY FOR HOUSING FACILITIES FOR YOUR FAMILY IN THE BOSTON AREA WITHOUT SUCCESS. ALSO, YOU STATE THAT IN VIEW OF THE UNAVAILABILITY OF SUITABLE RENTAL HOUSING IN THE BOSTON AREA YOU CHOSE TO RESIDE AT A MOTEL ON A WEEK-TO- WEEK BASIS AND COMMUTE REGULARLY EVERY WEEKEND AND SOMETIMES DURING THE WEEK TO YOUR FAMILY IN GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK. SINCE NO ONE WAS ABLE TO INFORM YOU OF A DATE ON WHICH YOU WOULD BE ASSIGNED FROM THE BOSTON AREA YOU CONTINUED TO COMMUTE, AT LEAST WEEKLY, TO YOUR HOME IN GARDEN CITY UNTIL YOU FINALLY RECEIVED YOUR ASSIGNMENT, EFFECTIVE AUGUST 25, 1968, AS CHIEF OF STAFF AT THE VA HOSPITAL IN ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA.

IN YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 8 YOU CONTEND THAT, IN YOUR OPINION, YOUR RESIDENCE IN GARDEN CITY COMES WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 4.1 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, WHICH AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY AN EMPLOYEE IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE AT HIS OLD OFFICIAL REVISED JUNE 26, 1969, STATES THAT " *** THE RESIDENCE AND THE HOUSEHOLD STATION. YOU ALSO POINT OUT THAT SECTION 1.2I OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OF AN EMPLOYEE, OFFICIAL STATION *** ALSO MEANS THE RESIDENCE *** FROM WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REGULARLY COMMUTES TO AND FROM WORK *** ." YOU FURTHER CONTEND THAT OUR DECISION B-161606, PUBLISHED AT 47 COMP. GEN. 109 (1967), DEMONSTRATES THAT YOUR CLAIM IS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS.

IT WAS NOTED IN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT THAT YOUR TRAVEL VOUCHER, PAID ON NOVEMBER 8, 1967, STATED THAT TRAVEL WAS APPROVED TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, YOUR FIRST DUTY STATION AND THAT YOU SIGNED AN AGREEMENT FOR ONE YEAR'S SERVICE WITH VA. THIS WOULD SEEM TO INDICATE THAT BOSTON WAS, IN FACT, YOUR FIRST DUTY STATION. WE HAVE STATED THAT WE DO NOT VIEW A POINT OR LOCALITY TO WHICH AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELS SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF A TRAINING ASSIGNMENT AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION. SEE OUR DECISIONS B- 166030, FEBRUARY 19, 1969; B-164043, MAY 28, 1968; AND B 162756, FEBRUARY 5, 1968, COPIES ENCLOSED. HOWEVER, WE POINT OUT THAT PRIOR TO YOUR APPOINTMENT TO DUTY AT BOSTON YOU WERE NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT AND HAD NO DUTY STATION FOR FEDERAL SERVICE PURPOSES. THEREFORE, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO THE DESIGNATION OF BOSTON AS YOUR FIRST DUTY STATION BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION. EVEN IF IT IS ASSUMED THAT YOUR FIRST DUTY STATION WAS ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA, THERE WOULD BE NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE YOU FOR THE EXPENSES OF THE SALE OF YOUR RESIDENCE IN NEW YORK ON AUGUST 20, 1969. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES YOU WOULD BE REGARDED AS A NEW APPOINTEE. THE REGULATIONS, SECTION 4.4 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SPECIFICALLY, EXCLUDE NEW APPOINTEES FROM ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT IN CONNECTION WITH REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS.

UNDER SECTION 4.1 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY AN EMPLOYEE IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE AT THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION (IN YOUR CASE BOSTON) MAY BE MADE PROVIDED THE DWELLING WAS HIS ACTUAL RESIDENCE AT THE TIME HE WAS FIRST DEFINITELY INFORMED THAT HE WOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO HIS NEW OFFICIAL STATION. IN OUR DECISION 47 COMP. GEN. 109 WE INDICATED THAT ON A GENERAL BASIS WE COULD NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST INVOLVED IN THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE WHICH IS NOT ACTUALLY LOCATED AT THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD DUTY STATION OR AT A PLACE TO WHICH HE COMMUTES ON A DAILY BASIS. HOWEVER, WE RECOGNIZED AN EXCEPTION TO THE DAILY COMMUTING RULE WHERE, DUE TO THE REMOTENESS OF THE AREA IN WHICH THE OFFICIAL STATION IS LOCATED, THE EMPLOYEE CANNOT OBTAIN A RESIDENCE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY IN A LOCATION WHICH PERMITS COMMUTING TO WORK ON A DAILY BASIS. WE STATED THAT IN SUCH CASES, UNDER SECTION 4 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REIMBURSEMENT COULD NOT BE MADE FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF THE RESIDENCE IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY LIVES AND TO WHICH HE MAY COMMUTE ON WEEKENDS.

YOU BELIEVE THE DECISION IN 47 COMP. GEN. 109 IS FOR APPLICATION IN YOUR CASE BECAUSE YOU COULD NOT OBTAIN SUITABLE, SHORT-TERM HOUSING IN THE BOSTON AREA AND THAT YOU WERE REQUIRED TO COMMUTE AT LEAST WEEKLY, AT CONSIDERABLE PERSONAL EXPENSE TO YOURSELF, BETWEEN BOSTON AND GARDEN CITY. THAT DECISION WAS PREDICATED ON THE FACT THAT THE OFFICIAL STATION OF THE EMPLOYEE WAS LOCATED IN A REMOTE AREA WHERE ADEQUATE FAMILY HOUSING WAS NOT AVAILABLE WITHIN REASONABLE DAILY COMMUTING DISTANCE. WE DO NOT FEEL THAT THE CITY OF BOSTON FALLS WITHIN THE CATEGORY OF BEING LOCATED IN A REMOTE AREA. THEREFORE, WE MAY NOT VIEW GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK, AS BEING EMBRACED WITHIN YOUR OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AT BOSTON.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING AND BASED UPON OUR REVIEW OF THE ENTIRE RECORD WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO SUSTAIN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF JUNE 10, 1970, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM.