B-170800, DEC. 22, 1970

B-170800: Dec 22, 1970

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WHERE EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR WAS CONTACTED UNOFFICIALLY CONCERNING HIS INTEREST IN A LOWER GRADE POSITION. IT WAS REASONABLE FOR HIM TO CONCLUDE THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION WOULD BE TRANSFERRED. THERE WAS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE SALE OF HIS RESIDENCE MUST TAKE PLACE AFTER THE EMPLOYEE IS DEFINITELY INFORMED THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION IS TO BE TRANSFERRED. GRAHAM WAS UNOFFICIALLY CONTACTED BY TELEPHONE TO DETERMINE HIS STATUS AND INTEREST IN EMPLOYMENT IN SACRAMENTO. AT EPHRATA AND THAT INCIDENT THERETO HE WAS OFFERED "A LOWER GRADE POSITION" AT THE SALARY RATE HE THEN WAS RECEIVING ($19. THE PROSPECTIVELY EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE REDUCTION IN FORCE IS NOT SHOWN.

B-170800, DEC. 22, 1970

REAL ESTATE EXPENSES DECISION IN FAVOR OF CLAIM FOR $1,273.78 REPRESENTING REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED BY CECIL J. GRAHAM IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF HIS RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION. WHERE EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR WAS CONTACTED UNOFFICIALLY CONCERNING HIS INTEREST IN A LOWER GRADE POSITION, WHILE MAINTAINING HIS PRESENT SALARY AND THEN NOTIFIED OF THE REDUCTION IN FORCE WITH AN OFFER OF THE LOWER GRADE POSITION, IT WAS REASONABLE FOR HIM TO CONCLUDE THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION WOULD BE TRANSFERRED, AND SINCE HE SOLD HIS RESIDENCE AFTER SUCH OCCURRENCE, THERE WAS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE SALE OF HIS RESIDENCE MUST TAKE PLACE AFTER THE EMPLOYEE IS DEFINITELY INFORMED THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION IS TO BE TRANSFERRED. THEREFORE THE CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.

TO MR. A. E. DAZELL:

ON SEPTEMBER 9, 1970, YOU REQUESTED AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN FAVOR OF MR. CECIL J. GRAHAM IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,273.78, REPRESENTING REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF HIS RESIDENCE AT EPHRATA, WASHINGTON, INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION TO SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, EFFECTIVE JUNE 28, 1970, UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. OP-70-20 DATED JUNE 22, 1970.

YOU SAY THAT IN LATE FEBRUARY OR EARLY MARCH 1970 MR. GRAHAM WAS UNOFFICIALLY CONTACTED BY TELEPHONE TO DETERMINE HIS STATUS AND INTEREST IN EMPLOYMENT IN SACRAMENTO; FURTHER THAT ON APRIL 2, 1970, HE RECEIVED A NOTICE OF A REDUCTION IN FORCE ABOLISHING HIS POSITION, GS 13 LAND MANAGEMENT OFFICER, REGION 1, COLUMBIA BASIN PROJECT OFFICE, AT EPHRATA AND THAT INCIDENT THERETO HE WAS OFFERED "A LOWER GRADE POSITION" AT THE SALARY RATE HE THEN WAS RECEIVING ($19,555 PER ANNUM).

THE PROSPECTIVELY EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE REDUCTION IN FORCE IS NOT SHOWN. PRESUMABLY, THE OFFER OF A LOWER GRADED JOB DID NOT SPECIFICALLY REFER TO THE GS-12 NATURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST POSITION IN REGION 2 AT SACRAMENTO TO WHICH MR. GRAHAM SUBSEQUENTLY WAS CHANGED BY PERSONNEL ACTION DATED JUNE 22, 1970. THE SAVING OF SALARY RATE ON JUNE 22, 1970, APPARENTLY WAS INTENDED TO BE MADE PURSUANT TO AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN SECTION 5337, TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE.

HOWEVER, ON APRIL 3, 1970, MR. GRAHAM LISTED HIS EPHRATA HOME FOR SALE BY A BROKER AND THE AGREEMENT OF SALE DATED MAY 7 WAS SETTLED ON MAY 15, 1970.

SUBSEQUENTLY, ON MAY 20, 1970, IN PLANNING THE REORGANIZATION AND STAFFING OF THE LAND RESOURCES BRANCH AT SACRAMENTO (REGION 2), IT WAS PROPOSED THAT A GS-12 POSITION AS HEAD, LAND USE SECTION, BE ESTABLISHED AND THAT IT BE FILLED BY REASSIGNMENT OF MR. GRAHAM. AT THAT TIME APPARENTLY HE WAS CONSIDERED AS A SURPLUS EMPLOYEE INCIDENT TO THE REDUCTION IN FORCE AT THE COLUMBIA BASIN PROJECT. THAT PROPOSAL WAS APPROVED BY THE REGION 2 DIRECTOR'S OFFICE ON JUNE 11, 1970, AND MR. GRAHAM WAS OFFICIALLY NOTIFIED ON JUNE 12 OF HIS SELECTION AND OF THE IMPENDING TRANSFER TO THE GS-12 POSITION AT SACRAMENTO.

YOU QUESTION THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING THE VOUCHER AS THE SETTLEMENT OF SALE OF THE RESIDENCE OCCURRED MAY 15, 1970, AND THE POSITION FOR WHICH MR. GRAHAM WAS SELECTED ON MAY 20, 1970, WAS NOT ESTABLISHED UNTIL AFTER JUNE 11, 1970. ON THE LATTER DATE HE SIGNED AN AGREEMENT TO REMAIN IN THE SERVICE FOR TWELVE MONTHS IN CONSIDERATION OF PAYMENT OF TRANSFER EXPENSES BY THE GOVERNMENT. WE UNDERSTAND THAT CERTAIN OTHER TRANSFER EXPENSES HAVE BEEN PAID.

FOR AN EMPLOYEE TO BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE IN CONNECTION WITH A TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION, THE SALE OF THE RESIDENCE MUST TAKE PLACE AFTER THE EMPLOYEE IS DEFINITELY INFORMED THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION IS TO BE TRANSFERRED. SEE SECTION 4.1D OF CIRCULAR A-56, REVISED JUNE 26, 1969, AND B-165796, FEBRUARY 12, 1969.

ON THE BASIS OF THE TELEPHONE CALL PLUS THE REDUCTION IN FORCE NOTICE WITH AN OFFER OF A LOWER GRADE POSITION, IT WAS REASONABLE FOR MR. GRAHAM TO CONCLUDE THAT HIS OFFICIAL STATION WOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER LOCATION. SINCE HE SOLD HIS RESIDENCE AFTER SUCH OCCURRENCES WE BELIEVE THERE WAS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT REFERRED TO ABOVE AND THAT HE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF OTHERWISE PROPER REAL ESTATE EXPENSES.

IN THAT CONNECTION WE NOTE THAT MR. GRAHAM HAS CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR A PREMIUM OF $111.25 FOR A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY PLUS SALES TAX THEREON OF $5.01. WE HAVE HELD THAT THE COST OF TITLE INSURANCE PURCHASED BY THE SELLER OF A RESIDENCE IS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE APPLICABLE PROVISION OF LAW AND REGULATIONS IF INSURANCE OF THE TYPE IS CUSTOMARILY FURNISHED BY THE SELLER OF A RESIDENCE IN THE AREA OF THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION. COMP. GEN. 559 (1968).

ACCORDINGLY, THE ITEMS OF $111.25 AND $5.01 SHOULD BE WITHHELD FROM CERTIFICATION UNTIL INFORMATION OF THAT NATURE IS FURNISHED.

THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH FOR HANDLING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.