B-171110, JAN 28, 1971

B-171110: Jan 28, 1971

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ON BASIS THAT RESIDENCE WAS NOT LOCATED AT OLD OFFICIAL STATION BUT FORT COLLINS. FORT COLLINS WAS SELECTED AS THE FAMILY RESIDENCE BECAUSE HIS SON ATTENDED COLLEGE THERE AND WAS THE LOCATION OF MRS. ON BEING TRANSFERRED TO PUEBLO HE CANNOT NOW CLAIM FORT COLLINS AS HIS OLD OFFICIAL STATION SINCE HE NEITHER COMMUTED FROM THERE NOR WAS HIS PLACE OF WORK IN SUCH A REMOTE AREA THAT ADEQUATE HOUSING WAS NOT WITHIN COMMUTING DISTANCE. EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF HIS HOME AT FORT COLLINS INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER FROM O'NEILL TO PUEBLO ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES TRAVEL FOR DEPENDENTS AND TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IS PROVIDED. FARRALL: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 21.

B-171110, JAN 28, 1971

TRANSFERS - INCIDENTAL EXPENSES - OLD OFFICIAL STATION DENYING CLAIM OF LYMAN B. MCCALL FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM O'NEILL, NEBRASKA, TO PUEBLO, COLORADO, ON BASIS THAT RESIDENCE WAS NOT LOCATED AT OLD OFFICIAL STATION BUT FORT COLLINS, COLORADO. UPON ASSIGNMENT TO O'NEILL CLAIMANT SETTLED HIS FAMILY AT FORT COLLINS, 500 MILES AWAY, SINCE HE KNEW THAT HE WOULD BE ON DETAIL MOST OF THE TIME AND AWAY FROM O'NEILL; FORT COLLINS WAS SELECTED AS THE FAMILY RESIDENCE BECAUSE HIS SON ATTENDED COLLEGE THERE AND WAS THE LOCATION OF MRS. MCCALL'S PHYSICIAN. ON BEING TRANSFERRED TO PUEBLO HE CANNOT NOW CLAIM FORT COLLINS AS HIS OLD OFFICIAL STATION SINCE HE NEITHER COMMUTED FROM THERE NOR WAS HIS PLACE OF WORK IN SUCH A REMOTE AREA THAT ADEQUATE HOUSING WAS NOT WITHIN COMMUTING DISTANCE. THEREFORE, EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF HIS HOME AT FORT COLLINS INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER FROM O'NEILL TO PUEBLO ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE. HOWEVER, UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES TRAVEL FOR DEPENDENTS AND TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IS PROVIDED.

TO MR. FARRALL:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 21, 1970 (REFERENCE 7 360) IN WHICH YOU REQUEST AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER CERTAIN ITEMS CLAIMED BY MR. LYMAN B. MCCALL FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE ITEMS INCLUDE EXPENSE OF THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE, MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS TO PUEBLO, COLORADO, THE EMPLOYEE'S NEW DUTY STATION. YOUR QUESTION ARISES BECAUSE THE FORMER DUTY STATION FROM WHICH MR. MCCALL WAS TRANSFERRED WAS O'NEILL, NEBRASKA (A COMMUNITY OF 3,181 POPULATION ACCORDING TO THE 1960 CENSUS); HOWEVER, THE RESIDENCE SOLD WAS LOCATED AT FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, AND THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS ORIGINATED AT THAT POINT.

SINCE MR. MCCALL'S TRANSFER FROM O'NEILL, NEBRASKA, TO PUEBLO IN MAY 1970 WAS PRECEDED BY A TRANSFER FROM CANON CITY, COLORADO, TO O'NEILL ON MARCH 25, 1968, YOU SUGGEST THAT, IN VIEW OF THE SUCCESSIVE TRANSFERS FROM ONE DUTY STATION TO ANOTHER, REIMBURSEMENT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED ON THE BASIS OF A TRANSFER FROM THE FIRST TO THE THIRD STATION. HOWEVER, AS YOU POINT OUT, SUCH A DETERMINATION WOULD BE PRECLUDED BY THE PROVISION OF SUBSECTION 1.3D OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 REQUIRING INITIATION OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WITHIN A PERIOD OF 2 YEARS FOLLOWING THE FIRST TRANSFER IN ORDER TO ALLOW REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES.

WITH RESPECT TO THE RESIDENCE SALE EXPENSE, IT IS NOTED THAT, SUBSEQUENT TO MR. MCCALL'S TRANSFER FROM CANON CITY TO O'NEILL, HE SOLD A RESIDENCE AT THE FORMER DUTY STATION AND WAS REIMBURSED CERTAIN EXPENSES CONNECTED THEREWITH. APPARENTLY, NO CLAIM WAS MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PURCHASE AT FORT COLLINS. AS YOU POINT OUT, FORT COLLINS IS NEARLY 500 MILES FROM O'NEILL AND MR. MCCALL VISITED THERE ONLY ON ALTERNATE WEEKENDS. THE REASON GIVEN FOR NOT MOVING HIS HOUSEHOLD TO O'NEILL IS THAT MR. MCCALL KNEW HE WOULD BE ON DETAIL MOST OF THE TIME AND AWAY FROM THAT CITY. FORT COLLINS WAS SELECTED AS THE FAMILY RESIDENCE FOR THE REASONS THAT A SON ATTENDED COLLEGE THERE AND IT WAS THE LOCATION OF MRS. MCCALL'S PHYSICIAN.

SUBSECTION 5724A(4) OF TITLE 5, U.S.C. ALLOWS REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES OF THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE LOCATED AT THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION WHEN INCURRED INCIDENT TO TRANSFER. IN 47 COMP. GEN. 109 (1967) WE STATED THE RULE FOR DETERMINING ALLOWANCE OF SUCH EXPENSES AS FOLLOWS:

" *** WE CANNOT ON A GENERAL BASIS 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. SEE B-160898, MARCH 10, 1967. ON THE OTHER HAND WE BELIEVE THAT AN EXCEPTION TO THE DAILY COMMUTING RULE MAY BE MADE IN CASES WHERE THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED CANNOT OBTAIN A RESIDENCE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY IN A LOCATION WHICH PERMITS COMMUTING TO WORK ON A DAILY BASIS. IN SUCH CASES REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SALE OF THE RESIDENCE IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY LIVES AND TO WHICH HE MAY COMMUTE ON WEEKENDS."

THE REVISION OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, EFFECTIVE JUNE 26, 1969, INCORPORATED THIS HOLDING IN A NEW DEFINITION OF OFFICIAL STATION OR POST OF DUTY IN SUBSECTION 1.2I AS FOLLOWS:

"I. 'OFFICIAL STATION OR POST OF DUTY' MEANS THE BUILDING OR OTHER PLACE WHERE THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE REGULARLY REPORTS FOR DUTY. ***

"WITH RESPECT TO ENTITLEMENT UNDER THESE REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE RESIDENCE AND THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OF AN EMPLOYEE, OFFICIAL STATION OR POST OF DUTY ALSO MEANS THE RESIDENCE OR OTHER QUARTERS FROM WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REGULARLY COMMUTES TO AND FROM WORK, EXCEPT THAT WHERE THE OFFICIAL STATION OR POST OF DUTY IS IN A REMOTE AREA WHERE ADEQUATE FAMILY HOUSING IS NOT AVAILABLE WITHIN REASONABLE DAILY COMMUTING DISTANCE THEN RESIDENCE INCLUDES THE DWELLING WHERE THE FAMILY OF THE EMPLOYEE RESIDES OR WILL RESIDE, BUT ONLY IF SUCH RESIDENCE REASONABLY RELATES TO THE OFFICIAL STATION AS DETERMINED BY AN APPROPRIATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIAL."

MR. MCCALL HAS CERTIFIED THAT THE RESIDENCE AT FORT COLLINS WAS HIS ACTUAL RESIDENCE AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER TO PUEBLO. HOWEVER, HE DID NOT COMMUTE ON A DAILY BASIS FROM FORT COLLINS TO O'NEILL, AND THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT O'NEILL IS IN A REMOTE AREA WHERE ADEQUATE FAMILY HOUSING IS NOT AVAILABLE. THEREFORE, SINCE THE RESIDENCE AT FORT COLLINS MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS A RESIDENCE AT THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY STATION, THE EXPENSES OF THE SALE THEREOF MAY NOT BE ALLOWED. SEE B-164905, AUGUST 27, 1968, AND B-167178, SEPTEMBER 29, 1969, COPIES ENCLOSED.

WE NOTE THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAS CLAIMED AN ITEM OF $116.75 AS LEGAL AND RELATED COSTS INCIDENT TO PURCHASE OF A NEW RESIDENCE AT PUEBLO. THE SUPPORTING BILL FROM AN ATTORNEY (STATING A TOTAL AMOUNT OF $166.25, EVIDENTLY IN ERROR) DESCRIBES THE SERVICES PERFORMED AS "ATTY'S FEES ON CLOSING $112.50; RECORDING WARRANTY DEED $2.00; DOCUMENTARY FEE ON DEED $2.25." NO QUESTION IS RAISED CONCERNING THE FEES IN CONNECTION WITH RECORDING THE DEED. HOWEVER, WE WOULD ADVISE THAT NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT SUBSECTION 4.2C OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, WHICH AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN KINDS OF LEGAL AND RELATED COSTS, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF AN ATTORNEY'S FEE FOR REPRESENTATION AT CLOSING. THEREFORE, THE AMOUNT OF $112.50 IS SUBJECT TO QUESTION.

WITH RESPECT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM FORT COLLINS TO PUEBLO, SUBSECTION 6.3 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"AUTHORIZED POINTS OF ORIGIN AND DESTINATION FOR SHIPMENTS. ALLOWANCES OR REIMBURSEMENTS FOR TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS AUTHORIZED HEREIN MAY BE PAID WHETHER THE SHIPMENT ORIGINATES AT THE EMPLOYEE'S LAST OFFICIAL STATION OR PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE OR AT SOME OTHER POINT, OR IF PART OF THE SHIPMENT ORIGINATES AT THE LAST OFFICIAL STATION AND THE REMAINDER AT ONE OR MORE OTHER POINTS. SIMILARLY, THESE EXPENSES ARE ALLOWABLE WHETHER THE POINT OF DESTINATION IS THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION OR SOME OTHER POINT SELECTED BY THE EMPLOYEE, OR IF THE DESTINATION FOR PART OF THE PROPERTY IS THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION AND THE REMAINDER IS SHIPPED TO ONE OR MORE OTHER POINTS. HOWEVER, THE TOTAL AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE PAID OR REIMBURSED BY THE GOVERNMENT SHALL NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE PROPERTY IN ONE LOT BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL ROUTE FROM THE LAST OFFICIAL STATION OF THE TRANSFERRING EMPLOYEE *** TO THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION."

SINCE THE COMMUTED RATE FOR SHIPMENT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM FORT COLLINS TO PUEBLO WAS MUCH LESS THAN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR SHIPMENT FROM O'NEILL, REIMBURSEMENT FOR THIS EXPENSE IS CLEARLY ALLOWED UNDER THE ABOVE QUOTED REGULATION.

LIKEWISE, WITH RESPECT TO TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF AN EMPLOYEE, SUBSECTION 2.2A OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES THAT:

"TRAVEL OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY MAY BEGIN AT THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD OFFICIAL STATION OR SOME OTHER POINT, OR PARTIALLY AT BOTH, OR MAY END AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION OR SOME OTHER PLACE SELECTED BY THE EMPLOYEE, OR PARTIALLY AT BOTH. HOWEVER, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY WILL NOT EXCEED THE ALLOWABLE COST BY USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATION."

ACCORDINGLY, REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DEPENDENTS FROM FORT COLLINS TO PUEBLO IS AUTHORIZED SINCE THE MILEAGE CLAIMED BETWEEN THOSE POINTS IS 162 MILES, WHEREAS THE DISTANCE FROM O'NEILL TO PUEBLO IS APPROXIMATELY 573 MILES, AS SHOWN BY THE RAND MCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE. IN THIS CONNECTION WE NOTE AN AMOUNT OF $2.50 PER DIEM IS CLAIMED FOR TRAVEL DURING ONE-QUARTER DAY BY MRS. MCCALL. SUBSECTION 2.2B(1)(B) PROVIDES THAT THE RATE OF PER DIEM FOR AN EMPLOYEE'S SPOUSE TRAVELING UNACCOMPANIED (AS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE CASE HERE) WILL BE THE SAME PER DIEM RATE AUTHORIZED FOR THE EMPLOYEE. NOTING THAT MR. MCCALL WAS AUTHORIZED PER DIEM AT A RATE OF $20, MRS. MCCALL WOULD BE ENTITLED TO ONE-QUARTER OF THAT AMOUNT OR $5.

THE VOUCHER AND ATTACHMENTS ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED FOR ACTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.