B-174976, MAR 10, 1972

B-174976: Mar 10, 1972

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DICKEMORE FOR AN AUTHORIZED HOUSE HUNTING TRIP INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHICH WAS NOT EFFECTED. NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION WAS NEVER CONSUMMATED. THE VOUCHER MAY PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT SINCE THE TRIP WAS UNDERTAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND THE EMPLOYEE'S DECISION WAS THE RESULT OF ERRONEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE ADVICE CONCERNING GRADE LEVEL. THE AMOUNT CLAIMED IS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP TO BIG PINEY. INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHICH WAS NOT EFFECTED. DICKEMORE WAS TO BE TRANSFERRED FOR OFFICIAL CHANGE OF STATION FROM MOUNTAIN CITY. HIS DUTY REPORTING DATE AT THE NEW STATION WAS SEPTEMBER 26. THE REQUIRED SERVICE AGREEMENT WAS SIGNED AND A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WAS AUTHORIZED.

B-174976, MAR 10, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - REIMBURSEMENT OF HOUSE HUNTING EXPENSES - UNEFFECTED PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF REIMBURSEMENT TO RONALD D. DICKEMORE FOR AN AUTHORIZED HOUSE HUNTING TRIP INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHICH WAS NOT EFFECTED. EXPENSES INCURRED IN COMPLIANCE WITH A TRAVEL ORDER MAY BE REIMBURSABLE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION WAS NEVER CONSUMMATED. B-170259, SEPTEMBER 13, 1970. IN THE INSTANT CASE, THE VOUCHER MAY PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT SINCE THE TRIP WAS UNDERTAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND THE EMPLOYEE'S DECISION WAS THE RESULT OF ERRONEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE ADVICE CONCERNING GRADE LEVEL.

TO MR. C. E. TIPTON:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 30, 1971, YOUR REFERENCE 6540, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $88.96 IN FAVOR OF MR. RONALD D. DICKEMORE, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, MOUNTAIN CITY, NEVADA. THE AMOUNT CLAIMED IS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP TO BIG PINEY, WYOMING, INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHICH WAS NOT EFFECTED.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 1230, DATED SEPTEMBER 10, 1971, MR. DICKEMORE WAS TO BE TRANSFERRED FOR OFFICIAL CHANGE OF STATION FROM MOUNTAIN CITY, NEVADA, TO BIG PINEY, WYOMING. HIS DUTY REPORTING DATE AT THE NEW STATION WAS SEPTEMBER 26, 1971. THE REQUIRED SERVICE AGREEMENT WAS SIGNED AND A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WAS AUTHORIZED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, AS FOLLOWS:

"13. ROUND TRIP OF SELF AND SPOUSE, NOT TO EXCEED 4 DAYS, TO SEEK PERMANENT RESIDENCE AT NEW OFFICIAL STATION:EMPLOYEE OR SPOUSE TRAVELING ALONE, $20; EMPLOYEE AND SPOUSE TRAVELING TOGETHER, EMPLOYEE $20, SPOUSE $15. MODE OF TRAVEL WILL BE BY PERSONAL AUTO."

THE MILEAGE AUTHORIZATION WAS AT THE RATE OF 8 CENTS PER MILE WHEN TWO PERSONS TRAVEL TOGETHER.

THE RECORD FURTHER SHOWS THAT MR. AND MRS. DICKEMORE DEPARTED MOUNTAIN CITY, NEVADA, ON SEPTEMBER 10 FOR BIG PINEY, WYOMING, AND RETURNED ON SEPTEMBER 14 LOGGING IN 1,112 MILES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS SOUGHT IN THE AMOUNT OF $88.96. NO REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED FOR THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WHILE IN TRAVEL STATUS.

THE RECORD FURTHER DISCLOSES THAT THE TRANSFER WAS TO BE MADE IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT AND IT WAS REPRESENTED TO THE EMPLOYEE THAT IT INVOLVED A PROMOTION FROM GRADE GS-7 TO GRADE GS-9. ON THAT BASIS THE ADVANCE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WAS UNDERTAKEN.

UPON ARRIVAL THE EMPLOYEE DISCOVERED THAT THE TRANSFER WAS GOING TO BE LATERAL, AT THE SAME GRADE, AND THEREFORE HE REFUSED THE TRANSFER. SINCE MR. DICKEMORE IS STILL EMPLOYED BY THE FOREST SERVICE IN MOUNTAIN CITY, NEVADA, WE ASSUME THAT HIS ORDERS WERE CANCELLED.

THE RECORD IS SUPPLEMENTED BY COMMUNICATIONS MEMORANDA OF THE FOREST SUPERVISORS OF THE TWO LOCATIONS INVOLVED WHICH INDICATE THAT THE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP TO BIG PINEY, WYOMING, WAS UNDERTAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO ACCEPT TRANSFER AND THAT THE CAUSE FOR REFUSAL WAS THE ERRONEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE ADVICE CONCERNING THE GRADE LEVEL AT WHICH THE TRANSFER WAS TO BE MADE.

WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY HELD THAT EXPENSES INCURRED IN COMPLIANCE WITH A TRAVEL ORDER ARE REIMBURSABLE NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION WAS NOT CONSUMMATED. SEE B-170259, SEPTEMBER 15, 1970, COPY ENCLOSED. THE CIRCUMSTANCES GIVING RISE TO THE INSTANT CLAIM JUSTIFY THE APPLICATION OF THAT DECISION HERE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.