B-172705, MAY 28, 1971

B-172705: May 28, 1971

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CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - CHANGE OF STATION - SHORT DISTANCES AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF A CLAIM FOR MOVING EXPENSES UPON DETERMINATION BY AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL THAT PURCHASE OF THE HOME WAS INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF STATION OF EMPLOYEE OF U.S. IN THIS CASE THE COMMUTING DISTANCE BETWEEN BROKEN BOW AND THE OLD DUTY STATION WAS 15 MILES. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE NEW RESIDENCE AND THE NEW DUTY STATION WAS 42 MILES. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW RESIDENCE WAS 7/10 OF A MILE. A-56 DEALING WITH A SHORT DISTANCE CHANGE OF STATION ARE NOT TO BE NARROWLY APPLIED. THAT THERE WAS A CRITICAL HOUSING SHORTAGE IN THE NEAR VICINITY OF HIS NEW DUTY STATION. THAT OTHER SUITABLE RENTAL HOUSING WAS NOT AVAILABLE IN BROKEN BOW.

B-172705, MAY 28, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - CHANGE OF STATION - SHORT DISTANCES AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF A CLAIM FOR MOVING EXPENSES UPON DETERMINATION BY AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL THAT PURCHASE OF THE HOME WAS INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF STATION OF EMPLOYEE OF U.S. ARMY ENGINEER CORPS FROM BROKEN BOW, OKLA., TO GILLHAM, ARKANSAS. IN THIS CASE THE COMMUTING DISTANCE BETWEEN BROKEN BOW AND THE OLD DUTY STATION WAS 15 MILES, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE NEW RESIDENCE AND THE NEW DUTY STATION WAS 42 MILES, AND THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW RESIDENCE WAS 7/10 OF A MILE. THE CRITERIA ESTABLISHED BY SECTION 1.3A(2) OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 DEALING WITH A SHORT DISTANCE CHANGE OF STATION ARE NOT TO BE NARROWLY APPLIED. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW, THEREFORE, THAT FOR A RELOCATION TO BE INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER OF DUTY STATION IT MUST RESULT IN LESS COMMUTING TIME AND DISTANCE. IN THIS CASE, THE COMP. GEN. VIEWS AS PERTINENT FACTS, AS STATED BY THE EMPLOYEE, THAT HE HAD GIVEN NOTICE OF TERMINATING HIS LEASE PENDING THE CONSUMMATION OF HIS TRANSFER, THAT THERE WAS A CRITICAL HOUSING SHORTAGE IN THE NEAR VICINITY OF HIS NEW DUTY STATION, AND THAT OTHER SUITABLE RENTAL HOUSING WAS NOT AVAILABLE IN BROKEN BOW.

TO MR. E. L. CARNEY:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 29, 1971, YOUR REFERENCE SWTDC F AND ASSIGNED PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 71-20, IN WHICH YOU REQUEST AN ADVANCE DECISION ON A CLAIM FOR MOVING EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FOR FRED L. BREWER, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE U.S. ARMY ENGINEER DISTRICT, TULSA, TULSA, OKLAHOMA.

MR. BREWER'S CLAIM IS BASED UPON A TRAVEL REQUEST DATED JUNE 30, 1970, AUTHORIZING HIM TO TRAVEL AND MOVE HIS FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM BROKEN BOW, OKLAHOMA, TO GILLHAM, ARKANSAS, INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION. REAL ESTATE AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES, AS WELL AS PER DIEM, WERE ALSO AUTHORIZED. MR. BREWER BEGAN HIS DUTY AT THE GILLHAM OFFICE OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS BUT ELECTED TO CONTINUE RESIDING IN BROKEN BOW AND COMMUTE TO GILLHAM. HE STATES THAT THE REASON HE DECIDED TO STAY IN BROKEN BOW WAS BECAUSE "HOUSING IN DEQUEEN (THE NEAREST ADJACENT COMMUNITY TO GILLHAM OF APPRECIABLE SIZE) WAS CRITICALLY SHORT." THIS OPINION WAS APPARENTLY BASED UPON CONVERSATIONS MR. BREWER HAD WITH PERSONNEL STATIONED AT THE GILLHAM OFFICE. LATER HE MADE A VISIT TO DEQUEEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF ASCERTAINING THE AVAILABILITY OF SUITABLE HOUSING FOR HIS FAMILY. ACCORDING TO HIS COMMENTS, "NO SUITABLE HOUSING TO BE FOUND." PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF HIS TRANSFER, HE HAD GIVEN HIS LANDLORD NOTICE OF HIS PROBABLE TRANSFER ON OR ABOUT JULY 1, 1970. HE STATES THAT THE LANDLORD MADE ARRANGEMENTS FOR OTHER TENANTS TO LEASE THE PREMISES AND THAT BECAUSE THERE WAS ALSO A SHORTAGE OF RENTAL HOUSING IN BROKEN BOW HE PROCEEDED TO CONTRACT FOR THE PURCHASE OF A HOUSE THEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION. ULTIMATELY, HE RELOCATED IN BROKEN BOW NEARLY 3 MONTHS AFTER HE ENTERED ON DUTY IN GILLHAM. YOU STATE THAT THE COMMUTING DISTANCE BETWEEN BROKEN BOW AND HIS OLD DUTY STATION WAS 15 MILES AND THAT THE DISTANCE BETWEEN HIS NEW RESIDENCE AND THE NEW DUTY STATION IS APPROXIMATELY 42 MILES, ALSO THAT THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW RESIDENCE IS 7/10 OF A MILE. YOU INDICATE THAT THE DISALLOWANCE OF MR. BREWER'S MOVING EXPENSES IS BASED UPON SECTION C4108 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (JTR) AND FURTHER STATE:

"THE RELOCATION OF RESIDENCE WITHIN THE SAME CITY IS NOT CONSIDERED INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF DUTY STATIONS BECAUSE THE MOVE DID NOT RESULT IN LESS COMMUTING TIME AND DISTANCE."

SECTION C4108 OF JTR IS BASED UPON SECTION 1.3A OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED JUNE 26, 1969, AND PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"(1) WHEN CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION OR OTHER ACTION DESCRIBED BELOW IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY SUCH OFFICIAL OR OFFICIALS AS THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT MAY DESIGNATE, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND APPLICABLE ALLOWANCES AS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE PAYABLE IN THE CASE OF (A) TRANSFER OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER FOR PERMANENT DUTY, PROVIDED THAT: THE TRANSFER IS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT AND IS NOT PRIMARILY FOR THE CONVENIENCE OR BENEFIT OF THE EMPLOYEE OR AT HIS REQUEST; THE TRANSFER IS TO A NEW OFFICIAL STATION WHICH IS AT LEAST TEN MILES DISTANT FROM THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION; AND, IN CASE OF A RELATIVELY SHORT DISTANCE RELOCATION, A DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY IS MADE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 1.3A(2) ***

"(2) WHEN THE CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION INVOLVES A SHORT DISTANCE WITHIN THE SAME GENERAL LOCAL OR METROPOLITAN AREA, THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND APPLICABLE ALLOWANCES IN CONNECTION WITH THE EMPLOYEE'S RELOCATION OF HIS RESIDENCE MAY BE AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN THE AGENCY DETERMINES THAT THE RELOCATION WAS INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION. SUCH DETERMINATION SHOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION SUCH FACTORS AS COMMUTING TIME AND DISTANCE BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE'S RESIDENCE AT THE TIME OF NOTIFICATION OF TRANSFER AND HIS OLD AND NEW POSTS OF DUTY AS WELL AS THE COMMUTING TIME AND DISTANCE BETWEEN A PROPOSED NEW RESIDENCE AND THE NEW POST OF DUTY. ORDINARILY, A RELOCATION OF RESIDENCE SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS INCIDENT TO A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION UNLESS THE ONE-WAY COMMUTING DISTANCE FROM THE OLD RESIDENCE TO THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION IS AT LEAST TEN MILES GREATER THAN FROM THE OLD RESIDENCE TO THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION. EVEN THEN, CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING A PARTICULAR CASE, E.G., RELATIVE COMMUTING TIME, MAY SUGGEST THAT THE MOVE OF RESIDENCE WAS NOT INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION."

WE HAVE SAID THAT WHETHER A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION INVOLVES A "SHORT DISTANCE" WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 1.3A(2) OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 DOES NOT CHANGE THE STANDARD APPLICABLE TO ALL CASES THAT AN EMPLOYEE'S RELOCATION OF RESIDENCE BE "INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION." SEE B-167171, AUGUST 8, 1969, AND B-163955, MAY 20, 1968, AND MARCH 14, 1969. THOSE DECISIONS ALSO CHARACTERIZE THE DETERMINATIVE FACTORS AS GENERAL CRITERIA RATHER THAN FIXED RULES TO BE NARROWLY APPLIED IN ALL CASES INVOLVING TRANSFERS BETWEEN OFFICIAL STATIONS WHICH ARE RELATIVELY CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. THEREFORE, IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT FOR A RELOCATION TO BE INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER OF DUTY STATION IT MUST INVARIABLY RESULT IN LESS COMMUTING TIME AND DISTANCE. IN THAT CONNECTION SEE OUR DECISION IN B-167171, AUGUST 8, 1969, COPY HEREWITH.

IN THIS CASE WE VIEW AS PARTICULARLY PERTINENT THE FACTS, AS STATED BY MR. BREWER, THAT HE HAD GIVEN NOTICE OF TERMINATING HIS LEASE PENDING THE CONSUMMATION OF HIS TRANSFER, THAT THERE WAS A CRITICAL HOUSING SHORTAGE IN THE NEAR VICINITY OF HIS NEW DUTY STATION, AND THAT OTHER SUITABLE RENTAL HOUSING WAS NOT AVAILABLE IN BROKEN BOW. IN VIEW THEREOF WE CAN SEE NO OBJECTION TO A DETERMINATION BY AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL OF YOUR AGENCY THAT MR. BREWER'S PURCHASE OF A HOME WAS INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION.

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