B-181198, NOV 25, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 427

B-181198: Nov 25, 1974

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IS ENTITLED TO HAVE 1-YEAR INITIAL PERIOD FOR SETTLEMENT OF REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS. 1974: THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION BY THE REGIONAL FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATOR (REGION EIGHT). WHILE THE SUBMISSION WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION. IT WAS NOT SUBMITTED BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO. IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SUCH DECISIONS FROM THIS OFFICE. THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED ARE (1) WHETHER THE 1-YEAR TIME LIMITATION (PLUS 1-YEAR EXTENSION IF GRANTED BY AN EMPLOYEE'S AGENCY) FOR COMPLETING REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS. IS SUSPENDED DURING MILITARY ACTIVE DUTY. (2) IF THE PERIOD IS SO SUSPENDED. WAS SEPARATED FOR MILITARY DUTY ON JULY 21. WAS DISCHARGED FROM MILITARY SERVICE ON MARCH 30.

B-181198, NOV 25, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 427

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - "SETTLEMENT DATE" LIMITATION ON PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS - EXTENSION - MILITARY SERVICE CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE INDUCTED INTO MILITARY SERVICE 5 WEEKS AFTER TRANSFER IN JUNE 1970 AND DISCHARGED ON MARCH 30, 1972, MAY BE REIMBURSED AUTHORIZED REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HOUSE PURCHASE EFFECTED IN NOVEMBER 1973 AFTER HIS REEMPLOYMENT ON JULY 3, 1972, PROVIDED AGENCY GRANTS TIME EXTENSION, COMMENCING ON FEBRUARY 24, 1973, WHEN INITIAL 1- YEAR PERIOD (AS EXTENDED BY MILITARY SERVICE) EXPIRED. OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TRANSFERS - RELOCATION EXPENSES - "SETTLEMENT DATE" LIMITATION ON PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS - TIME COMPUTATION CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED ON JUNE 16, 1970; SEPARATED JULY 21, 1970, FOR MILITARY DUTY; DISCHARGED THEREFROM ON MARCH 30, 1972; AND REEMPLOYED ON JULY 3, 1972, IS ENTITLED TO HAVE 1-YEAR INITIAL PERIOD FOR SETTLEMENT OF REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS, AS AUTHORIZED IN OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SECTION 4.1E, EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 24, 1973.

IN THE MATTER OF TIME LIMITATION FOR REAL ESTATE EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT TO MILITARY SERVICE MEMBER, NOVEMBER 25, 1974:

THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION BY THE REGIONAL FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATOR (REGION EIGHT), IN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, AND PERTAINS TO THE CLAIM OF MR. ROY H. WEAVER FOR REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED IN PURCHASING A RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO HIS PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FROM SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, TO DENVER, COLORADO, IN JUNE 1970.

WHILE THE SUBMISSION WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION, IT WAS NOT SUBMITTED BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO, BY STATUTE, IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SUCH DECISIONS FROM THIS OFFICE. SEE 31 U.S. CODES 74 AND 82D. HOWEVER, SINCE THE LETTER OF THE REGIONAL FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATOR SETS FORTH THE FACTS WITH SUFFICIENT PARTICULARITY TO ENABLE US TO DECIDE THE CASE, WE RENDER THIS DECISION IN THE INTEREST OF AVOIDING THE DELAY INVOLVED IN REQUIRING SUBMISSION OF THE MATTER IN ACCORDANCE WITH NORMAL PROCEDURES. IN THE FUTURE, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN AN ADVANCE DECISION FROM OUR OFFICE, SECTIONS 74 AND 82D, SUPRA, SHOULD BE COMPLIED WITH.

THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED ARE (1) WHETHER THE 1-YEAR TIME LIMITATION (PLUS 1-YEAR EXTENSION IF GRANTED BY AN EMPLOYEE'S AGENCY) FOR COMPLETING REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS, AS PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION 4.1E OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) CIRCULAR NO. A-56 (JUNE 1969), IS SUSPENDED DURING MILITARY ACTIVE DUTY, AND (2) IF THE PERIOD IS SO SUSPENDED, WHETHER MR. WEAVER'S CASE FALLS WITHIN THE ALLOWABLE TIME LIMITS AS EXTENDED.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. WEAVER, WHO HAD RECEIVED HIS INDUCTION NOTICE PRIOR TO LEAVING SANTA FE, REPORTED TO THE NEW DUTY STATION ON JUNE 16, 1970; WAS SEPARATED FOR MILITARY DUTY ON JULY 21, 1970; WAS DISCHARGED FROM MILITARY SERVICE ON MARCH 30, 1972; REPORTED BACK TO DUTY IN DENVER ON JULY 3, 1972; AND ON JANUARY 18, 1973, HAD REQUESTED A TIME EXTENSION OF 7 MONTHS FOR SETTLEMENT ON THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE IN A NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT. THE PURCHASE CONTRACT ON THIS RESIDENCE WAS SIGNED ON MARCH 2, 1973, AND SETTLEMENT ON THE PURCHASE WAS EFFECTED ON NOVEMBER 5, 1973. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE AGENCY IS WILLING TO GRANT A 1-YEAR EXTENSION UPON AN AFFIRMATIVE FINDING BY US ON ITS FIRST QUESTION.

WE NOTE THAT SECTION 1.3, CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS REGARDING PAYMENT OF ALLOWANCES, IN THE ABOVE-CITED CIRCULAR PROVIDES IN SUBSECTION D THAT THE MAXIMUM TIME FOR BEGINNING ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION WILL NOT EXCEED 2 YEARS FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S TRANSFER EXCEPT THAT:

(1) THE TWO-YEAR PERIOD IS EXCLUSIVE OF THE TIME SPENT ON FURLOUGH FOR AN EMPLOYEE WHO BEGINS ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH PERIOD AND WHO IS FURLOUGHED FOR THE DURATION OF HIS ASSIGNMENT TO THE POST OF DUTY FOR WHICH TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES ARE ALLOWED, AND

WHILE NO SUCH PROVISION IS CONTAINED IN SECTION 4 OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A- 56, ALLOWANCE FOR EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH RESIDENCE TRANSACTIONS INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER OF STATION, NEITHER IS THERE ANYTHING IN THIS SECTION PRECLUDING THE SUSPENSION OF TIME SPENT ON ACTIVE MILITARY DUTY FROM THE TIME LIMITATION IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF NECESSARY EXPENSES.

THUS, WE WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO EXCLUDING FROM THE TIME LIMITATION FOR COMPLETING A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION, TIME SPENT ON FURLOUGH FOR AN EMPLOYEE WHO BEGINS ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH PERIOD.

THE FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.

WITH REGARD TO THE SECOND QUESTION, AT THE TIME OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SEPARATION FROM HIS AGENCY ON JULY 21, 1970, THE INITIAL PERIOD FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF REAL ESTATE EXPENSES, AS PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION 4.1E OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 HAD RUN FOR 1 MONTH AND 5 DAYS, LEAVING AN UNEXPIRED PERIOD OF 10 MONTHS AND 25 DAYS. ADDING THIS PERIOD TO THE DATE OF HIS MILITARY DISCHARGE ON MARCH 30, 1972 (RATHER THAN TO THE DATE OF HIS REEMPLOYMENT, WHICH OCCURRED SOME 3 MONTHS LATER), WE FIND THAT THE INITIAL PERIOD, AS EXTENDED BY THE MILITARY DUTY, EXPIRED ON FEBRUARY 24, 1973, BY OPERATION OF LAW.

ON OCTOBER 28, 1972, THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSECTION 4.1E IN OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56, AS REVISED ON AUGUST 17, 1971, WERE CHANGED BY THE FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS (FPMR) IN FPMR TEMPORARY REGULATION A-8, SUPPLEMENT 3, TO DISPENSE WITH THE REQUIREMENT FOR A FINDING BY THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY, OR HIS DESIGNEE, THAT A SALE/PURCHASE CONTRACT HAD BEEN ENTERED INTO DURING THE INITIAL 1-YEAR PERIOD IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY A TIME EXTENSION FOR PERIODS UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 1 MORE YEAR, AND MERELY REQUIRED THAT THE REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION ON WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS SOUGHT MUST BE REASONABLY RELATED TO THE EMPLOYEE'S TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION.

THIS CHANGE IN REGULATIONS WOULD BE APPLICABLE HERE SINCE IT WAS MADE EFFECTIVE ON OCTOBER 28, 1972, WHICH WAS WITHIN THE INITIAL 1-YEAR REIMBURSEMENT PERIOD, AS EXTENDED FOR MILITARY DUTY IN MR. WEAVER'S CASE, TO FEBRUARY 24, 1973. SEE B-164461, DECEMBER 12, 1969.

THUS, THERE IS LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR THE AGENCY TO GRANT A TIME EXTENSION FROM FEBRUARY 24, 1973, TO FEBRUARY 24, 1974, WHICH WOULD COVER THE SETTLEMENT DATE OF NOVEMBER 5, 1973, ON THE EMPLOYEE'S HOUSE PURCHASE, AND THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND QUESTION IS ALSO IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, PROVIDED THE AGENCY EXERCISES ITS DISCRETION TO GRANT SUCH EXTENSION.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED SHOWS A LUMP SUM AMOUNT CLAIMED OF $219.35 AS LEGAL AND RELATED COSTS. SUBSECTION 2-6.2C OF THE FPMR 101-7, MAY 1973, IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF SETTLEMENT PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

C. LEGAL AND RELATED EXPENSES. TO THE EXTENT SUCH COSTS HAVE NOT BEEN INCLUDED IN BROKERS' OR SIMILAR SERVICES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED UNDER OTHER CATEGORIES, THE FOLLOWING EXPENSES ARE REIMBURSABLE WITH RESPECT TO THE SALE AND PURCHASE OF RESIDENCES IF THEY ARE CUSTOMARILY PAID BY THE SELLER OF A RESIDENCE AT THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION OR IF CUSTOMARILY PAID BY THE PURCHASER OF A RESIDENCE AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION, TO THE EXTENT THEY DO NOT EXCEED AMOUNTS CUSTOMARILY CHARGED IN THE LOCALITY OF THE RESIDENCE: COSTS OF (1) SEARCHING TITLE, PREPARING ABSTRACT, AND LEGAL FEES FOR A TITLE OPINION OR

(2) WHERE CUSTOMARILY FURNISHED BY THE SELLER, THE COST OF A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY; COSTS OF PREPARING CONVEYANCE, OTHER INSTRUMENTS, AND CONTRACTS AND RELATED NOTARY FEES AND RECORDING FEES; COSTS OF MAKING SURVEYS, PREPARING DRAWINGS OR PLATS WHEN REQUIRED FOR LEGAL OR FINANCING PURPOSES; AND SIMILAR EXPENSES. COSTS OF LITIGATION ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE.

IN CASES IN WHICH AN ATTORNEY'S FEE STATED IN A LUMP SUM AMOUNT INCLUDES CHARGES BOTH FOR SERVICES FOR WHICH PAYMENT IS ALLOWED BY SUBSECTION 2- 6.2C AND FOR OTHERS NOT ALLOWED, IT IS NECESSARY TO STATE SEPARATELY THE PORTIONS OF THE FEES ALLOCABLE TO REIMBURSABLE ITEMS BEFORE PAYMENT MAY BE MADE. SEE B-175328, SEPTEMBER 21, 1972.

CONSEQUENTLY, IF THE EMPLOYEE'S AGENCY GRANTS HIM A TIME EXTENSION TO COVER THE SETTLEMENT DATE OF NOVEMBER 5, 1973, WE WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE REIMBURSEMENT OF MR. WEAVER'S REAL ESTATE EXPENSES PROVIDED THAT THEY ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSECTION 2-6.2C IN THE FPMR.

ACTION ON THE VOUCHER SHOULD BE TAKEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.