B-174514, DEC 10, 1971

B-174514: Dec 10, 1971

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SINCE THE QUARTERS INTO WHICH CLAIMANT MOVED WAS ACTUALLY HIS PERMANENT QUARTERS. SUCH QUARTERS WOULD NOT QUALIFY AS TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE SAVED THE GOVERNMENT MONEY BY ARRANGEMENTS SUCH AS THOSE HERE INVOLVED MAY NOT SERVE AS A BASIS FOR REIMBURSING MEAL EXPENSES. HARTLEY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 5. SYKES WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM ST. ACTUAL MOVE WAS MADE BY AAA MOVING AND STORAGE COMPANY. EVEN THIS WAS ONLY AFTER A NUMBER OF TELEPHONE CALLS TO THE COMPANY. SYKES PURCHASED WAS IN A RURAL SECTION. HE FELT IT DESIRABLE TO BE PRESENT PERSONALLY AT THE HOUSE OR HAVE A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY THERE SO THAT THERE WOULD BE NO PROBLEMS IN DIRECTIONS OR RECEIVING THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHEN THEY ARRIVED.

B-174514, DEC 10, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - CHANGE OF STATION - MEALS - TEMPORARY LODGING DECISION DENYING REIMBURSEMENT OF $208.25 TO MR. JAMES E. SYKES, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, INCIDENT TO A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION. SINCE THE QUARTERS INTO WHICH CLAIMANT MOVED WAS ACTUALLY HIS PERMANENT QUARTERS, ALBEIT NOT YET COMPLETELY FURNISHED, SUCH QUARTERS WOULD NOT QUALIFY AS TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE SAVED THE GOVERNMENT MONEY BY ARRANGEMENTS SUCH AS THOSE HERE INVOLVED MAY NOT SERVE AS A BASIS FOR REIMBURSING MEAL EXPENSES.

TO MR. JAMES R. HARTLEY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 5, 1971, WITH ATTACHMENTS, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $208.25 IN FAVOR OF MR. JAMES E. SYKES, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENTED IN VIEW OF SECTION 2.5B(3) OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) CIRCULAR NO. A- 56, REVISED JUNE 26, 1969.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. SYKES WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM ST. PETERSBURG BEACH, FLORIDA, TO BEAUFORT, NORTH CAROLINA, UNDER TRAVEL ORDER NO. 2-FSE-8095 DATED AUGUST 19, 1971, FOR TRAVEL TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT AUGUST 25, 1971. IN ADDITION TO THE PROVIDING OF RELOCATION EXPENSES, THE TRAVEL ORDERS ALSO AUTHORIZED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF MR. SYKES AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER.

IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 5, 1971, YOU POINT OUT THE FOLLOWING:

"THE GOVERNMENT DETERMINED THAT HE SHOULD MOVE HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS UNDER A GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING (ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD). UNDER GSA PROCEDURES, THE GOVERNMENT SELECTED U.S. VAN LINES, ATLANTA, GEORGIA AS THE MOVER. ACTUAL MOVE WAS MADE BY AAA MOVING AND STORAGE COMPANY, TAMPA, FLORIDA, AGENT FOR U.S. VAN LINES, ATLANTA.

"MR. SYKES ARRANGED TO PURCHASE A HOUSE IN MORE HEAD CITY, NORTH CAROLINA. TO ENROLL HIS SON IN SCHOOL, HE AND HIS SON DEPARTED FOR MORE HEAD CITY ON AUGUST 25, ARRIVING AUGUST 26. MRS. SYKES REMAINED BEHIND TO BE PRESENT WHEN THE MOVER PICKED UP THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

"DESPITE ASSURANCES BY THE MOVER THAT HE WOULD PICK UP THE GOODS ON AUGUST 24, HE DID NOT DO SO UNTIL AUGUST 27. EVEN THIS WAS ONLY AFTER A NUMBER OF TELEPHONE CALLS TO THE COMPANY.

"THE MOVER ANTICIPATED THAT IT WOULD TAKE APPROXIMATELY FIVE DAYS TO TRANSPORT THE SHIPMENT FROM ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA TO MORE HEAD CITY, NORTH CAROLINA. AS IT TURNED OUT HE TOOK SEVEN DAYS.

"THE HOME MR. SYKES PURCHASED WAS IN A RURAL SECTION, SOMEWHAT REMOTE FROM THE BUILT-UP COMMUNITY AND NOT EASY TO LOCATE. HE FELT IT DESIRABLE TO BE PRESENT PERSONALLY AT THE HOUSE OR HAVE A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY THERE SO THAT THERE WOULD BE NO PROBLEMS IN DIRECTIONS OR RECEIVING THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHEN THEY ARRIVED. HE REALIZED THAT OCCUPYING AN UNFURNISHED HOUSE WOULD BE OF CONSIDERABLE INCONVENIENCE TO HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY. SINCE THE TOTAL TIME WAS EXPECTED TO BE SHORT AND FOR PART OF THAT TIME, MRS. SYKES WOULD BE ON THE ROAD, HE DECIDED TO 'CAMP OUT' RATHER THAN GO TO A MOTEL. HE REASONED THAT, SINCE THIS WOULD SAVE THE COST OF THE MOTEL TO THE GOVERNMENT, IT WOULD BE CONSIDERED PRUDENT MANAGEMENT ON HIS PART. HE DID NOT, HOWEVER, DESIRE TO FORFEIT HIS ENTITLEMENT TO MEALS SINCE THERE WERE NO DISHES OR UTILITIES IN A HOUSE THAT WAS EMPTY SAVE FOR PRIMITIVE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS.

"ACCORDINGLY, MR. SYKES AND HIS SON OCCUPIED THE UNFURNISHED HOUSE FOR TWO DAYS, AUGUST 27 AND 28. ON THE THIRD DAY THEY WERE JOINED BY MRS. SYKES. THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE DELAYED ENROUTE FOR TRUCK REPAIRS AND DID NOT ARRIVE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 3. DURING THE EIGHT DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL, THE FAMILY OBTAINED MEALS IN A RESTAURANT AS THERE WAS NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE. HE CLAIMED $208.25 FOR THE MEALS BUT MADE NO CLAIM FOR TEMPORARY LODGING AS THERE WAS NO ADDITIONAL COST."

THE INITIAL REQUEST FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE MEAL EXPENSES WAS DENIED BY YOUR AGENCY ON THE BASIS OF PAST DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE SUCH AS B- 161348, MAY 31, 1967, AND OTHERS WHICH INDICATED THAT NO SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS IS ALLOWABLE WHEN A PERMANENT RESIDENCE IS OCCUPIED BY AN EMPLOYEE.

SECTION 2.5B(3) OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 STATES:

"(3) TEMPORARY QUARTERS REFERS TO LODGING OBTAINED TEMPORARILY BY THE EMPLOYEE AND/OR MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHO HAVE VACATED THE RESIDENCE QUARTERS IN WHICH THEY WERE RESIDING AT THE TIME THE TRANSFER WAS AUTHORIZED."

IN 46 COMP. GEN. 709 (1967), WE STATED THAT:

" *** PUBLIC LAW 89-516 AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES ONLY WHEN TEMPORARY QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION. *** "

SINCE THE QUARTERS INTO WHICH MR. SYKES MOVED WAS ACTUALLY HIS PERMANENT QUARTERS, ALBEIT NOT YET COMPLETELY FURNISHED, SUCH QUARTERS WOULD NOT QUALIFY AS TEMPORARY QUARTERS IN WHICH HE INTENDED TO RESIDE FOR A SHORT PERIOD PRIOR TO MOVING INTO HIS PERMANENT QUARTERS. THE FACT THAT THE LIVING QUARTERS WERE NOT FURNISHED IN A MANNER WHICH THE EMPLOYEE CONSIDERS TO BE ADEQUATE, DOES NOT ALTER THE FACT THAT HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE OCCUPYING PERMANENT RESIDENCE QUARTERS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE CLAIM. NOWHERE IN THE RECORD IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF AN INTENT ON HIS PART TO OCCUPY THE PREMISES ON A TEMPORARY BASIS.

UNDER THE ABOVE-CITED SECTION OF THE OMB CIRCULAR, WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES AFTER HE OCCUPIES THE RESIDENCE IN WHICH HE INTENDS TO REMAIN REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS MAY NOT ARRIVE AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION UNTIL SOME TIME LATER. ALSO, THE FACT THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY SAVE THE GOVERNMENT MONEY BY ARRANGEMENTS SUCH AS THOSE HERE INVOLVED MAY NOT SERVE AS BASIS FOR HOLDING OTHERWISE. SEE 46 COMP. GEN. 709 (1967); B-161363, MAY 8, 1967; B-161348, AUGUST 9, 1967; B-164379, NOVEMBER 12, 1968; AND B- 168336, DECEMBER 10, 1969, COPIES ENCLOSED.

WITH REGARD TO THOSE DECISIONS CITED BY YOU DEALING WITH THE INTENT OF THE EMPLOYEE WHICH YOU BELIEVE MIGHT SERVE AS A BASIS FOR ALLOWANCE OF THE INSTANT CLAIM, B-162531, APRIL 27, 1970, AND B-168649, JANUARY 20, 1970, COPIES ENCLOSED, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT THE ABOVE-REFERENCED RULINGS WOULD NOT BE FOR APPLICATION IN THIS CASE. IN BOTH OF SUCH DECISIONS, THERE WAS EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD THAT THE EMPLOYEE INVOLVED HAD REASONABLY DEMONSTRATED HIS INTENT TO USE THE QUARTERS ONLY ON A TEMPORARY BASIS. SUCH LIGHT, THE ABOVE DECISIONS ARE INAPPLICABLE TO MR. SYKES SINCE THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT HE INTENDED TO USE THE QUARTERS FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A PERMANENT RESIDENCE.

THE VOUCHER, WITH ACCOMPANYING PAPERS, IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.