B-174649, FEB 17, 1972

B-174649: Feb 17, 1972

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MAYER ARE DISTINGUISHABLE FROM "DRAWINGS AND PLATS" FOR WHICH STATUTORY REIMBURSEMENT IS PROVIDED. D. HUNTOON: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 19. THE REQUEST WAS FORWARDED HERE BY THE PER DIEM. WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL DUTY STATION FROM THE UNITED STATES NAVY UNDERWATER SOUND LAB. AMONG THOSE EXPENSES CLAIMED WAS A CHARGE FOR $75 WHICH MR. UPON WHICH HIS RESIDENCE WAS CONSTRUCTED. THIS EXPENSE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED AND MR. I HAVE VERIFIED THIS INTERPRETATION WITH THE OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL AT THIS INSTALLATION AND THEY HAVE ALSO CHECKED WITH ATTORNEYS AND REAL ESTATE DEALERS IN THIS LOCALITY. THEIR UNANIMOUS OPINION IS THAT THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE MUST BE EXAMINED BY AN ATTORNEY WHEN A PROPERTY IS PURCHASED AND A WRITTEN OPINION ON THE TITLE GIVEN BY THE ATTORNEY.

B-174649, FEB 17, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - REIMBURSEMENT - ENTITLEMENT CONCERNING A CLAIM OF JOSEPH R. MAYER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF LEGAL FEES AND REQUIRED PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS INCIDENT TO CLAIMANT'S CHANGE OF OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AS A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY. SECTION 4.2C OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 CLEARLY AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF LEGAL FEES INCIDENT TO THE ACQUISITION OF A NEW RESIDENCE; HOWEVER, THE "PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS" REQUIRED OF MR. MAYER ARE DISTINGUISHABLE FROM "DRAWINGS AND PLATS" FOR WHICH STATUTORY REIMBURSEMENT IS PROVIDED. ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT OF LEGAL FEES BUT THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REQUIRED PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS MUST BE DENIED.

TO LIEUTENANT G. D. HUNTOON:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 19, 1969, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIM FOR $75 LEGAL FEES SUBMITTED BY MR. JOSEPH R. MAYER, INCURRED INCIDENT TO A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL DUTY STATION, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED. IN ADDITION A QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT FOR PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRED FOR FINANCING PURPOSES. THE REQUEST WAS FORWARDED HERE BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE, PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 71-49, DATED NOVEMBER 29, 1971.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. MAYER, A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL DUTY STATION FROM THE UNITED STATES NAVY UNDERWATER SOUND LAB, FORT TRUMBELL, NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT, TO HEADQUARTERS, UNITED STATES ARMY WEAPONS COMMAND, ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, UNDER TRAVEL ORDER NO. 402 DATED AUGUST 28, 1968. PURSUANT TO THIS CHANGE OF DUTY STATION, MR. MAYER SUBMITTED TRAVEL VOUCHERS REPRESENTING EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO HIS MOVE. AMONG THOSE EXPENSES CLAIMED WAS A CHARGE FOR $75 WHICH MR. MAYER PAID TO HIS ATTORNEY FOR A LETTER OF OPINION AND EXAMINATION OF THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE WITH RESPECT TO A PARCEL OF LAND MR. MAYER PURCHASED AT THE NEW DUTY STATION, AND UPON WHICH HIS RESIDENCE WAS CONSTRUCTED. THIS EXPENSE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED AND MR. MAYER HAS RESUBMITTED A VOUCHER FOR THE $75. YOU RECOMMENDED IN YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 11, 1970, THAT REIMBURSEMENT BE ALLOWED ON THE BASIS THAT:

"2. I HAVE VERIFIED THIS INTERPRETATION WITH THE OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL AT THIS INSTALLATION AND THEY HAVE ALSO CHECKED WITH ATTORNEYS AND REAL ESTATE DEALERS IN THIS LOCALITY. THEIR UNANIMOUS OPINION IS THAT THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE MUST BE EXAMINED BY AN ATTORNEY WHEN A PROPERTY IS PURCHASED AND A WRITTEN OPINION ON THE TITLE GIVEN BY THE ATTORNEY. OTHERWISE THE PURCHASER COULD NOT BE SURE THAT HE WAS PURCHASING A PROPERTY FREE AND CLEAR OF ALL LIENS AND INCUMBRANCES. MOST CERTAINLY THE LAYMAN PURCHASER OR HIS NON-LEGALLY TRAINED REAL ESTATE BROKER COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO GIVE OR BE BOUND BY ANY LEGAL OPINION ON THE TITLE.

"3. I THEREFORE, RECOMMEND THAT THE $75.00 ITEM WHICH I HAVE VERIFIED AS A REASONABLE FEE OF THE ATTORNEY'S BILL, BE ALLOWED. THE CLAIM VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING PAPERS ARE ATTACHED AT TAB F."

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE, YOU REQUEST A DETERMINATION ON THE VALIDITY OF THE ORIGINAL SETTLEMENT APPARENTLY WITH RESPECT TO THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE CLAIM FOR EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT OF $125 INCURRED INCIDENT TO MR. MAYER'S FURNISHING THE BANK WITH AN APPROVED SET OF PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS PRIOR TO APPROVAL OF HIS LOAN. TO THIS END MR. MAYER HAS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD A LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 6, 1969, FROM MR. H. B. MOELLER, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE DAVENPORT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, WHICH STATED:

"FOR YOUR INFORMATION, PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT YOU WERE REQUIRED TO FURNISH THIS BANK AN APPROVED SET OF PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS COVERING THE CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR NEW HOME AT 4343 TANGLEWOOD DRIVE, BETTENDORF, IOWA, BEFORE YOUR APPLICATION FOR A MORTGAGE LOAN COULD BE APPROVED BY OUR LOAN COMMITTEE."

AS DESCRIBED IN HIS ATTORNEY'S BILL, THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR WHICH MR. MAYER NOW CLAIMS REIMBURSEMENT CONSISTED OF THE FOLLOWING:

"EXAMINATION OF ABSTRACT OF TITLE TO LOT 3 IN TANGLEWOOD HILLS 1ST ADDITION TO THE CITY OF BETTENDORF, IOWA, WITH LETTER OF OPINION TO DAVENPORT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, LENDER."

SECTION 4.2C OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) CIRCULAR NO. A 56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, WHICH WAS THE CONTROLLING REGULATION IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF MR. MAYER'S TRANSFER STATED:

"C. LEGAL AND RELATED COSTS. TO THE EXTENT SUCH COSTS HAVE NOT BEEN INCLUDED IN BROKERS' OR SIMILAR SERVICES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED UNDER OTHER CATEGORIES, CUSTOMARY COSTS OF SEARCHING TITLE, PREPARING CONVEYANCES AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS, AND PREPARING CONTRACTS, RELATED NOTARY FEES, RECORDING FEES, MAKING SURVEYS, PREPARING DRAWINGS OR PLATS WHEN REQUIRED FOR LEGAL OR FINANCING PURPOSES, AND SIMILAR EXPENSES, MAY BE REIMBURSED EITHER WITH RESPECT TO SALE OF THE RESIDENCE AT THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION OR PURCHASE OF A DWELLING AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION, BUT THE SAME TYPES OF COSTS SHALL NOT BE PAID AT BOTH LOCATIONS. COSTS OF LITIGATION ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE."

SINCE IT APPEARS FROM YOUR STATEMENT, HEREINABOVE QUOTED, THAT EXAMINATION OF THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE AND RENDITION OF A WRITTEN OPINION ON THE TITLE WAS NECESSARY AND CUSTOMARY IN THE LOCALITY HERE INVOLVED, REIMBURSEMENT OF THE $75 CHARGE MAY BE MADE UNDER AUTHORITY OF SECTION 4.2C OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56. SEE B-166801, DECEMBER 3, 1970, COPY ENCLOSED.

WITH REGARD TO THE CLAIM FOR $125 AS CHARGES INCURRED BY MR. MAYER INCIDENT TO PROVIDING HIS BANK WITH A SET OF PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS, SECTION 4.2C OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR "PREPARING DRAWINGS OR PLATS WHEN REQUIRED FOR LEGAL OR FINANCING PURPOSES."

ALTHOUGH THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. MAYER WAS REQUIRED BY HIS BANK TO FURNISH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS OF HIS RESIDENCE AS A PREREQUISITE TO APPROVAL OF HIS MORTGAGE LOAN, WE HAVE HELD THAT "PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS" ARE DISTINGUISHABLE FROM "DRAWINGS AND PLATS" WITHIN THE REGULATIONS AND ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE. SEE B-164926, SEPTEMBER 30, 1968, COPY HEREWITH.

THE VOUCHER, WITH ATTACHMENTS, IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT TO THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED HEREIN.