B-175913, JUN 19, 1972

B-175913: Jun 19, 1972

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FRAASA: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 3. SCHROEDER WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM AUSTIN. WE SPENT SIX DAYS LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO LIVE AND DID NOT FIND THE HOUSE WE WERE LOOKING FOR. WE WERE INTERESTED IN SOME OF THE HOUSES HE SHOWED US. THE FIRST WEEKS AFTER OUR MOVE WERE HECTIC - MY HUSBAND WAS TRYING TO FIND A JOB. WE WERE TRYING TO FIND SOMEONE TO CARE FOR OUR CHILD. I WAS COMMUTING TO WORK IN AUSTIN. DURING THIS TIME IT WAS ALSO NECESSARY FOR ME TO MAKE A TRIP TO BROWNSVILLE. (PLEASE NOTE THAT NO TEMPORARY QUARTERS WERE CLAIMED DURING THE TIME I WAS IN TRAVEL STATUS). WE DIDN'T HAVE AS MUCH TIME TO LOOK AS WE NEEDED. OUR OCCUPANCY WAS SO TEMPORARY TO US THAT WE DID NOT UNPACK - WE LIVED OUT OF OUR SUITCASES.

B-175913, JUN 19, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES - REIMBURSEMENT CONCERNING THE ENTITLEMENT OF GAYNELLE SCHROEDER TO SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS INCIDENT TO HER TRANSFER AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. SINCE THE RECORD CLEARLY INDICATES THAT THE SCHROEDER FAMILY NEVER INTENDED TO USE THE DWELLING IN QUESTION ON OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY BASIS, THE VOUCHER MAY PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

TO MS. ANNORA F. FRAASA:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 3, 1972, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $900.03 IN FAVOR OF MRS. GAYNELLE SCHROEDER, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED 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 MRS. SCHROEDER WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS, TO DALLAS, TEXAS, UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. PIP 8037, DATED NOVEMBER 18, 1970. THE TRAVEL ORDERS AMONG OTHER THINGS AUTHORIZED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF MRS. SCHROEDER AND HER IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHILE OCCUPYING TEMPORARY QUARTERS INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER.

MRS. SCHROEDER HAS STATED THAT -

"MY HUSBAND AND I MADE A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP TO THE DALLAS AREA EARLY IN DECEMBER, 1970. WE SPENT SIX DAYS LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO LIVE AND DID NOT FIND THE HOUSE WE WERE LOOKING FOR. BILL BIGGS WITH BILL BIGGS REAL ESTATE COMPANY SHOWED US SEVERAL HOUSES. WE WERE INTERESTED IN SOME OF THE HOUSES HE SHOWED US, BUT COULDN'T FIND JUST WHAT WE WANTED IN OUR PRICE RANGE. MR. BIGGS OWNED SEVERAL HOUSES IN THE IRVING AREA AND AGREED TO LET US RENT ONE OF THE VACANT HOUSES UNTIL WE BOUGHT. AT THAT TIME WE DID NOT KNOW WHICH HOUSE MR. BIGGS WOULD BE ABLE TO RENT TO US. AS IT HAPPENED WE MOVED INTO THE HOUSE AT 1916 MEADOW GLEN IN IRVING, TEXAS, ON DECEMBER 29, 1970, AND PAID RENT FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY.

"WE STORED A LARGE PART OF OUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN THE GARAGE OF THAT HOUSE AND CONTINUED, AS TIME PERMITTED, TO LOOK FOR A HOUSE TO PURCHASE. THE FIRST WEEKS AFTER OUR MOVE WERE HECTIC - MY HUSBAND WAS TRYING TO FIND A JOB; WE WERE TRYING TO FIND SOMEONE TO CARE FOR OUR CHILD; I WAS COMMUTING TO WORK IN AUSTIN, TEXAS; AND DURING THIS TIME IT WAS ALSO NECESSARY FOR ME TO MAKE A TRIP TO BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS, ON OFFICE BUSINESS. (PLEASE NOTE THAT NO TEMPORARY QUARTERS WERE CLAIMED DURING THE TIME I WAS IN TRAVEL STATUS). IN SHORT, WE DIDN'T HAVE AS MUCH TIME TO LOOK AS WE NEEDED.

"AT THE TIME WE MOVED TO 1916 MEADOW GLEN, OUR OCCUPANCY WAS SO TEMPORARY TO US THAT WE DID NOT UNPACK - WE LIVED OUT OF OUR SUITCASES. WE DIDN'T CONNECT OUR GAS APPLIANCES SINCE THE HOUSE WAS NOT COMPLETELY PREPARED FOR GAS (SEE STATEMENT FOR ADJUSTING GAS CONNECTIONS IN FEBRUARY). THIS WAS ONE THING WE WERE LOOKING FOR IN A HOUSE - A GAS RANGE, CONNECTIONS FOR A GAS DRYER, ETC.

"BY THE END OF JANUARY, WE HAD NOT FOUND A HOUSE WE LIKED BETTER THAN THE HOUSE WE WERE RENTING AND WE HAD RECEIVED MONEY FROM THE SALE OF PROPERTY IN AUSTIN SO WE PURCHASED THE SAME HOUSE WE WERE RENTING."

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. *** "

UNDER THE ABOVE-CITED SECTION OF 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. ALSO, THE FACT THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY SAVE THE GOVERNMENT MONEY BY ARRANGEMENTS SUCH AS THESE HERE INVOLVED MAY NOT SERVE AS BASIS FOR HOLDING OTHERWISE. SEE 46 COMP. GEN. 709 (1967).

THE INITIAL REQUEST FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT WAS DENIED BY YOUR AGENCY ON THE BASIS THAT NO SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS IS ALLOWABLE WHEN A PERMANENT RESIDENCE IS OCCUPIED BY AN EMPLOYEE.

IN B-162531, APRIL 27, 1970, AND B-168649, JANUARY 20, 1970, COPIES ENCLOSED, WE RULED THAT SINCE THERE WAS EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD THAT THE EMPLOYEE INVOLVED HAD REASONABLY DEMONSTRATED HIS INTENT TO USE THE QUARTERS ONLY ON A TEMPORARY BASIS, THAT REIMBURSEMENT COULD BE MADE FOR THE TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES CLAIMED.

IT IS OUR VIEW IN THE PRESENT CASE THAT THE RECORD ESTABLISHES THAT, DURING THE PERIOD FOR WHICH TEMPORARY QUARTERS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED, MRS. SCHROEDER AND HER FAMILY HAD NEVER INTENDED TO USE THE DWELLING IN QUESTION EXCEPT ON A TEMPORARY BASIS. ACCORDINGLY, THE DECISIONS CITED SUPRA WOULD BE FOR APPLICATION AND REIMBURSEMENT OF THE CLAIM WOULD BE PROPER.

THE VOUCHER, WITH ACCOMPANYING PAPERS, IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE PROPER.