B-176795, SEP 21, 1972

B-176795: Sep 21, 1972

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN LAW FOR WAIVING THE REFUND OF EXCESS TRAVEL ADVANCES MADE TO EMPLOYEES. 5 U.S.C. 5705 SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT SUCH SUMS ARE RECOVERABLE FROM THE EMPLOYEE. SHAFER'S CLAIM WAS SUPERSEDED BY A NEW RATE PRIOR TO SHIPMENT OF CLAIMANT'S GOODS AND THEREFORE. PARTIAL WAIVER IN THE AMOUNT OF THE RATE DIFFERENTIAL IS ALLOWED. ON CONTRACTS FOR PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE EVEN THOUGH THE PURCHASE WAS NOT CONSUMMATED. CLOSING COSTS ARE NOT IDENTIFIABLE AS A REIMBURSABLE EXPENSE UNDER OMB CIRCULAR A-56. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN LAW FOR WAIVING THE REFUND OF EXCESS TRAVEL ADVANCES MADE TO EMPLOYEES. PROVIDES SPECIFICALLY THAT A SUM ADVANCED AND NOT USED FOR ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES IS RECOVERABLE FROM THE EMPLOYEE.

B-176795, SEP 21, 1972

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - WAIVER OF TRAVEL ADVANCES - REAL ESTATE PURCHASE EXPENSES DECISION DENYING IN PART, WAIVER OF COLLECTION OF ROBERT J. SHAFER'S DEBT TO THE UNITED STATES FOR REFUND OF THE UNUSED PART OF A TRAVEL ADVANCE MADE TO HIM IN CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER FROM CHERRY POINT, N.C., TO NORFOLK, VA., AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, AND ALSO DENYING REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN COSTS INCURRED INCIDENT TO INCOMPLETE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE IN THE NORFOLK AREA. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN LAW FOR WAIVING THE REFUND OF EXCESS TRAVEL ADVANCES MADE TO EMPLOYEES, AND 5 U.S.C. 5705 SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT SUCH SUMS ARE RECOVERABLE FROM THE EMPLOYEE. HOWEVER, THE COMMUTED RATE PRESCRIBED IN GSA, FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CIRCULAR A 2, FOR SETTLEMENT OF MR. SHAFER'S CLAIM WAS SUPERSEDED BY A NEW RATE PRIOR TO SHIPMENT OF CLAIMANT'S GOODS AND THEREFORE, PARTIAL WAIVER IN THE AMOUNT OF THE RATE DIFFERENTIAL IS ALLOWED. DEPOSITS MADE UNDER 5 U.S.C. 5724(A) AND OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SECTION 4, ON CONTRACTS FOR PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE EVEN THOUGH THE PURCHASE WAS NOT CONSUMMATED. FURTHERMORE, WHEN SETTLEMENT ON A PURCHASE OF REAL ESTATE DOES NOT OCCUR, CLOSING COSTS ARE NOT IDENTIFIABLE AS A REIMBURSABLE EXPENSE UNDER OMB CIRCULAR A-56, SECTION 4.

TO MR. ROBERT J. SHAFER:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 31, 1972, BY WHICH YOU REQUEST WAIVER OF COLLECTION WITH RESPECT TO YOUR DEBT TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE AMOUNT OF $163.16 FOR REFUND OF THE UNUSED PART OF THE TRAVEL ADVANCE MADE TO YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR TRANSFER FROM CHERRY POINT, NORTH CAROLINA, TO NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, ON JULY 15, 1970, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY.

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN LAW FOR WAIVING THE REFUND OF EXCESS TRAVEL ADVANCES MADE TO EMPLOYEES. ON THE CONTRARY, THE LAW WHICH AUTHORIZES TRAVEL ALLOWANCES, 5 U.S.C. 5705, PROVIDES SPECIFICALLY THAT A SUM ADVANCED AND NOT USED FOR ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES IS RECOVERABLE FROM THE EMPLOYEE.

REGARDING THE AMOUNTS ALLOWED FOR THE EXPENSES YOU INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE SUBJECT TRANSFER WE HAVE THOROUGHLY REVIEWED THE FILE INVOLVED. THE COMMUTED PAYMENT AUTHORIZED FOR TRANSPORTATION OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTED SINCE YOU DID NOT PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THOSE GOODS. THE WEIGHT USED IN DETERMINING YOUR ENTITLEMENT WAS COMPUTED UNDER SECTION 6.4D(3) OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 WHICH PROVIDES:

"(3) DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY (A) THE ORIGINAL OR A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE RECEIPTED WAREHOUSE BILL FOR TEMPORARY STORAGE AND (B) IN SUPPORT OF TRANSPORTATION, THE ORIGINAL BILLS OF LADING OR CERTIFIED COPIES, OR, IF BILLS OF LADING ARE NOT AVAILABLE, OTHER EVIDENCE SHOWING POINT OF ORIGIN, DESTINATION AND WEIGHT. IF NO ADEQUATE SCALE IS AVAILABLE AT POINT OF ORIGIN, AT ANY POINT EN ROUTE, OR AT DESTINATION, A CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT, BASED ON 7 POUNDS PER CUBIC FOOT OF PROPERLY LOADED VAN SPACE, MAY BE USED. SUCH CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT ALSO MAY BE USED FOR A PART LOAD WHEN ITS WEIGHT COULD NOT BE OBTAINED AT ORIGIN, EN ROUTE, OR AT DESTINATION, WITHOUT FIRST UNLOADING IT OR OTHER PART LOADS BEING CARRIED IN THE SAME VEHICLE."

YOU FURNISHED EVIDENCE THAT YOU TRANSPORTED YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN A RENTED TRUCK WITH A CAPACITY OF 950 CUBIC FEET AND A LISTING OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED. UNDER THE FORMULA PRESCRIBED (7 POUNDS PER CUBIC FOOT OF VAN SPACE) PAYMENT WAS AUTHORIZED AT THE COMMUTED RATE FOR 6,650 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS. SEE B-174098, DECEMBER 8, 1971, COPY ENCLOSED. WE NOTE HOWEVER THAT THE $9.51 COMMUTED RATE PER 100 POUNDS PRESCRIBED IN GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CIRCULAR A-2 WHICH WAS APPLIED IN THE PRIOR SETTLEMENT OF YOUR CLAIM WAS SUPERSEDED BY A RATE OF $10.05 PER 100 POUNDS EFFECTIVE MAY 1, 1971. SINCE YOUR GOODS WERE TRANSPORTED AFTER MAY 1, 1971, AN ADJUSTMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $35.91 WILL BE MADE AND YOUR INDEBTEDNESS REDUCED ACCORDINGLY.

YOU ALSO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN COSTS YOU INCURRED INCIDENT TO INCOMPLETE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE IN THE NORFOLK AREA. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT YOU MADE A DEPOSIT OF $100 AT THE TIME THE PURCHASE CONTRACT WAS SIGNED ON JUNE 17, 1971, AND THAT YOU MADE AN ADDITIONAL PAYMENT OF $400 ON JUNE 21, 1971. YOU HAVE CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THOSE AMOUNTS AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR CLOSING COSTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $186.40 WHICH ARE LISTED ON AN UNDATED MEMORANDUM OF THE FIRM OF ATTORNEYS WHICH WAS APPARENTLY HANDLING THE TRANSACTION. THE DEPOSITS WHICH YOU MADE ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE COSTS INCIDENT TO THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE UNDER THE CONTROLLING LAW AND REGULATION AS CONTAINED IN 5 U.S.C. 5724AA) AND SECTION 4 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56. FURTHER, THE BASIS FOR ASSESSMENT OF THE CLOSING CHARGES WHICH YOU CLAIM IS NOT CLEAR TO US SINCE THOSE CHARGES WOULD APPARENTLY ARISE FROM A TRANSFER TO YOU OF TITLE TO THE PROPERTY AND THE OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE MORTGAGE AT THE TIME OF SETTLEMENT. AS SETTLEMENT ON THE PURCHASE TRANSACTION DID NOT OCCUR WE CANNOT IDENTIFY THOSE EXPENSES AS REIMBURSABLE ITEMS UNDER SECTION 4 OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56.

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES NO COSTS INCIDENT TO THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE MAY BE ALLOWED. AS INDICATED ABOVE, HOWEVER, AN ADJUSTMENT IN YOUR DEBT OF $35.91 WILL BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE RECOMPUTATION OF YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED ALLOWANCE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

A COPY OF THIS DECISION IS BEING FORWARDED TO CONGRESSMAN WALTER B. JONES.