B-173330, JUL 7, 1971, 51 COMP GEN 17

B-173330: Jul 7, 1971

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THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 71 23 BY THE PER DIEM. THE UNIFORMED SERVICES ARE EXTENDING THE TOURS OF DUTY OF CERTAIN MEMBERS STATIONED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. MEMBERS WHOSE TOURS OF DUTY ARE SUBSEQUENTLY EXTENDED. OFTEN DO NOT KNOW THAT SUCH EXTENSIONS WILL BE MADE AND THEY NEGOTIATE A LEASE OF LOCAL ECONOMY HOUSING UPON ARRIVAL TO COVER THE EXPECTED LENGTH OF THEIR TOUR. IF ANY) WILL REMAIN FOR THE PERIOD OF THE TOUR EXTENSION. THE EXAMPLE GIVEN IS THAT OF AN AIR FORCE OFFICER (CAPTAIN KELLY P. IS UNABLE TO OBTAIN AN EXTENSION OF THE LEASE TO CORRESPOND WITH HIS EXTENDED TOUR OF DUTY BECAUSE THE HOUSE IS BEING SOLD AND THE NEW OWNER IS TAKING POSSESSION. IT IS SAID THAT THE NECESSARY MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS RESULTS IN A FINANCIAL HARDSHIP ON HIM BECAUSE OF CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

B-173330, JUL 7, 1971, 51 COMP GEN 17

MILITARY PERSONNEL - OUTSIDE UNITED STATES - TOURS OF DUTY EXTENDED - DRAYAGE AND STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS THE INVOLUNTARY EXTENSION OF AN OVERSEAS TOUR OF DUTY BEING A MARKED DEPARTURE FROM THE USUAL PRACTICE OF ROTATING MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES FROM OVERSEAS TO THE UNITED STATES, THE EXTENSION MAY BE VIEWED AS THE UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES CONTEMPLATED BY 37 U.S.C. 406(E), WHICH AUTHORIZES THE MOVEMENT OF DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WITHOUT REGARD TO THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS DIRECTING A CHANGE OF STATION. THEREFORE, THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT TO A MEMBER WHO UNABLE TO RENEW HIS LEASE FOR LOCAL ECONOMY HOUSING FOR THE EXTENDED TOUR OF DUTY INCURS THE EXPENSE OF DRAYAGE TO OTHER LOCAL ECONOMY QUARTERS, OR NONTEMPORARY STORAGE, INCLUDING ANY NECESSARY DRAYAGE TO STORAGE, AND DRAYAGE FROM NONTEMPORARY STORAGE TO ECONOMY QUARTERS.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE, JULY 7, 1971:

BY LETTER DATED JUNE 15, 1971, THE ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE (MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS) REQUESTED A DECISION WHETHER THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 8, MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE DRAYAGE AND/OR NONTEMPORARY STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 71 23 BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

THE ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS THAT IN AN EFFORT TO REDUCE PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION COSTS, THE UNIFORMED SERVICES ARE EXTENDING THE TOURS OF DUTY OF CERTAIN MEMBERS STATIONED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. HE EXPLAINS THAT UPON ARRIVAL AT THEIR NEW DUTY STATIONS, MEMBERS WHOSE TOURS OF DUTY ARE SUBSEQUENTLY EXTENDED, OFTEN DO NOT KNOW THAT SUCH EXTENSIONS WILL BE MADE AND THEY NEGOTIATE A LEASE OF LOCAL ECONOMY HOUSING UPON ARRIVAL TO COVER THE EXPECTED LENGTH OF THEIR TOUR. IN THE EVENT THE LANDLORD DECLINES TO RENEW THE LEASE, HE SAYS THE MEMBER MUST PAY FOR DRAYING AND/OR STORING (NONTEMPORARY) HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS INCIDENT TO OCCUPYING ANOTHER RESIDENCE WHERE HE (AND HIS FAMILY, IF ANY) WILL REMAIN FOR THE PERIOD OF THE TOUR EXTENSION.

THE EXAMPLE GIVEN IS THAT OF AN AIR FORCE OFFICER (CAPTAIN KELLY P. LACOMBE), PRESENTLY ASSIGNED TO DEFENSE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY, NORTH AMERICAN FIELD OFFICE, OTTAWA, CANADA, WHOSE TOUR OF DUTY HAS BEEN INVOLUNTARILY EXTENDED FROM JULY 1971 TO JULY 1972. CAPTAIN LACOMBE EXECUTED A LEASE FOR LOCAL ECONOMY HOUSING WHICH EXPIRES IN JULY 1971. IS UNABLE TO OBTAIN AN EXTENSION OF THE LEASE TO CORRESPOND WITH HIS EXTENDED TOUR OF DUTY BECAUSE THE HOUSE IS BEING SOLD AND THE NEW OWNER IS TAKING POSSESSION. IT IS SAID THAT THE NECESSARY MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS RESULTS IN A FINANCIAL HARDSHIP ON HIM BECAUSE OF CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND HIS CONTROL.

THE ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY SUGGESTS THAT AN INVOLUNTARY TOUR EXTENSION SUCH AS THAT HERE INVOLVED CONSTITUTES AN UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCE WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF 37 U.S.C. 406(E). THEREFORE, OUR VIEWS ARE REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO "AUTHORIZE DRAYAGE TO OTHER LOCAL ECONOMY QUARTERS, NONTEMPORARY STORAGE INCLUDING ANY NECESSARY DRAYAGE TO STORAGE, AND DRAYAGE FROM NONTEMPORARY STORAGE TO ECONOMY QUARTERS, WHEN A MEMBER'S TOUR OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES IS INVOLUNTARILY EXTENDED AND HE IS REQUIRED, FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL, TO CHANGE HIS RESIDENCE ON THE LOCAL ECONOMY."

AS A GENERAL PROPOSITION, SECTION 406 OF TITLE 37 OF THE U.S.C. AUTHORIZES TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS WHEN THE MEMBER IS ORDERED TO MAKE A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION. AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE ORDERS REQUIREMENT, SUBSECTION (E) OF SECTION 406 PROVIDES FOR THE MOVEMENT OF DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS IN UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES WITHOUT REGARD TO THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS DIRECTING A CHANGE OF STATION. IT FURTHER PROVIDES THAT THIS SUBSECTION MAY BE USED ONLY UNDER "UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES" INCLUDING THOSE IN WHICH (3) THE MEMBER IS SERVING ON PERMANENT DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, IN HAWAII OR ALASKA, OR ON SEA DUTY.

WE HAVE HELD THAT THE TERM "UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES" AS USED IN 37 U.S.C. 406(E) REFERS TO CONDITIONS OF A GENERAL NATURE INCIDENT TO MILITARY OPERATIONS OR MILITARY NEEDS, AND NOT TO CONDITIONS OR MATTERS OF A PERSONAL NATURE. 38 COMP. GEN. 28 (1958); 45 ID. 159 (1965); 45 ID. 208 (1965), AND 49 ID. 821 (1970).

THE STATUTE AUTHORIZES THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS UNDER UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN THE MEMBER IS SERVING AT A PERMANENT STATION OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. SINCE THE INVOLUNTARY EXTENSION OF THE TERM OF SERVICE OF A MEMBER AT AN OVERSEAS STATION IS A MARKED DEPARTURE FROM THE USUAL PRACTICE IN ROTATING MEMBERS FROM OVERSEAS TO THE UNITED STATES, WE BELIEVE IT MAY BE VIEWED AS AN UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCE WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE STATUTE. AND, CLEARLY THE DRAYAGE AND NONTEMPORARY STORAGE INCIDENT TO AN INVOLUNTARY EXTENSION IN THE DESCRIBED CIRCUMSTANCES ARISES FROM THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE.

ACCORDINGLY, WE SEE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO CHAPTER 8, VOLUME 1, OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.