B-181334, MAR 28, 1975

B-181334: Mar 28, 1975

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EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSPORTED PORTION OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY CAR AND RENTAL TRAILER MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED THEREFOR ON COMMUTED RATE BASIS SINCE ONLY EVIDENCE OF WEIGHT PRESENTED IS TERSELY ITEMIZED LIST AND EMPLOYEE'S ESTIMATED WEIGHT FOR EACH ITEM OR CLASS OF ITEMS. BOETTCHER WAS AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF 11. BOETTCHER'S CLAIM WAS APPARENTLY ARRIVED AT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS. THE PREVIOUS DISALLOWANCES OF HIS CLAIM WERE BASED ON HIS FAILURE TO SUBMIT EVIDENCE AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 6 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY A RECEIPTED COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING INCLUDING ANY ATTACHED WEIGHT CERTIFICATE COPIES IF SUCH A BILL WAS ISSUED.

B-181334, MAR 28, 1975

EMPLOYEE WHO TRANSPORTED PORTION OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY CAR AND RENTAL TRAILER MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED THEREFOR ON COMMUTED RATE BASIS SINCE ONLY EVIDENCE OF WEIGHT PRESENTED IS TERSELY ITEMIZED LIST AND EMPLOYEE'S ESTIMATED WEIGHT FOR EACH ITEM OR CLASS OF ITEMS. HOWEVER, IF EMPLOYEE CAN FURNISH OTHER EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE THAT ESTIMATED WEIGHT APPROXIMATES ACTUAL WEIGHT OF GOODS TRANSPORTED, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN MAKING MOVE TO EXTENT THEY DO NOT EXCEED AMOUNT THAT WOULD BE PAYABLE ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS.

RICHARD A. BOETTCHER - TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS:

THIS DECISION CONCERNS THE CLAIM OF MR. RICHARD A. BOETTCHER FOR PAYMENT OF $496.61 IN CONNECTION WITH THE MOVEMENT OF 3,497 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS INCIDENT TO HIS CHANGE OF STATION FROM LONG BEACH, TO FORT HUENEME, CALIFORNIA, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDER NO. T265007, OCTOBER 7, 1971.

INCIDENT TO THAT CHANGE OF STATION, MR. BOETTCHER WAS AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION OF 11,000 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS. WHILE HE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS FOR COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION OF 5,820 POUNDS OF GOODS, HE HAS RECEIVED NO REIMBURSEMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE MOVEMENT OF ADDITIONAL HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHICH, IN THE COURSE OF FIVE TRIPS, HE AND HIS FAMILY TRANSPORTED BY AUTOMOBILE AND/OR A RENTED TRAILER. MR. BOETTCHER CLAIMS THAT THE GOODS WHICH HE AND HIS FAMILY TRANSPORTED TOTALED 3,497 POUNDS AND IN SUPPORT OF THIS STATEMENT HE HAS SUBMITTED A LIST OF ITEMS TRANSPORTED AND HAS ATTRIBUTED A WEIGHT TO EACH ITEM OR CATEGORY OF ITEMS. HIS CLAIM HAS BEEN DISALLOWED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY AND BY OUR TRANSPORTATION AND CLAIMS DIVISION'S SETTLEMENT CERTIFICATE DATED DECEMBER 11, 1973.

THE $496.61 AMOUNT OF MR. BOETTCHER'S CLAIM WAS APPARENTLY ARRIVED AT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS. THE PREVIOUS DISALLOWANCES OF HIS CLAIM WERE BASED ON HIS FAILURE TO SUBMIT EVIDENCE AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 6 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1, 1971. SPECIFICALLY, MR. BOETTCHER DID NOT OBTAIN WEIGHT CERTIFICATES INDICATING THE GROSS AND TARE/WEIGHTS OF THE VEHICLES AND TRAILERS USED FOR TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 6.3A(3). NEITHER HAS HE SUBMITTED EVIDENCE OF THE VOLUME OCCUPIED BY THE GOODS TRANSPORTED SO AS TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF THE COMMUTED RATE BASED ON THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 6.2B(4) OF THE CIRCULAR. THOSE SECTIONS, RESPECTIVELY, PROVIDE AS FOLLOWS:

"(3) DOCUMENTATION. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY A RECEIPTED COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING INCLUDING ANY ATTACHED WEIGHT CERTIFICATE COPIES IF SUCH A BILL WAS ISSUED. IF NO BILL OF LADING WAS INVOLVED OTHER EVIDENCE SHOWING POINTS OF ORIGIN AND DESTINATION AND THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS MUST BE SUBMITTED. EMPLOYEES WHO TRANSPORT THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARE CAUTIONED TO ESTABLISH THE WEIGHT OF SUCH GOODS BY OBTAINING PROPER WEIGHT CERTIFICATES SHOWING GROSS WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE AND GOODS) AND TARE WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE ALONE) IF IT IS AT ALL POSSIBLE BECAUSE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR PAYMENT AT COMMUTED RATES ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT AS CONTAINED IN 6.2B(4) MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE.

"(4) CONSTRUCTIVE 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. ***"

WHILE A LITERAL READING OF THE ABOVE REGULATIONS WOULD SUGGEST THAT PAYMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS MIGHT NOT BE MADE BASED ON EVIDENCE OTHER THAN ACTUAL WEIGHT AS INDICATED BY WEIGHT CERTIFICATES, UNLESS ADEQUATE SCALES ARE SHOWN TO BE UNAVAILABLE, WE HELD IN 48 COMP. GEN. 115 (1968) THAT REIMBURSEMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS COULD BE MADE BASED ON VOLUME EVEN WITHOUT A SHOWING OF NONAVAILABILITY UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. THERE WE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

"SINCE THE EMPLOYEE FAILED TO OBTAIN THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE TIME OF TRANSPORTATION, HE MAY BE PAID AT THE COMMUTED RATE ONLY IF HE IS ABLE TO SHOW THE AMOUNT OF SPACE OCCUPIED BY HIS GOODS AND THAT THE GOODS WERE PROPERLY LOADED IN THE SPACE AVAILABLE. ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF SPACE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED BY HIS EFFECTS IF PROPERLY LOADED, THE EMPLOYEE MAY SUBMIT A LIST OF ITEMS TRANSPORTED TOGETHER WITH THE VOLUME OCCUPIED BY EACH BASED ON ACTUAL MEASUREMENT OR A UNIFORM TABLE, PREFERABLY PREPARED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER.

"IF THE EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO ESTABLISH HIS ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED PAYMENT BY COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS LISTED ABOVE, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED SUCH AS FOR GAS, OIL, TOLLS, ETC., IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS UPON COMPLYING WITH THE RULE SET FORTH IN 38 COMP. GEN. 554, 555 AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN, HOWEVER, AS HERE, THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE AFFORDS A BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE GOODS SHIPPED REASONABLY APPROXIMATES THE ESTIMATED WEIGHT, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES TO THE EXTENT THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE FOR SUCH ESTIMATED WEIGHT AT THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATES."

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT DECISION ARE OUR HOLDINGS IN B-173557, AUGUST 30, 1971, AND B-174098, DECEMBER 8, 1971.

IN THE INSTANT CASE, MR. BOETTCHER HAS NOT SUBMITTED EVIDENCE IN THE NATURE OF THAT DISCUSSED ABOVE TO SUPPORT PAYMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS. AS MENTIONED ABOVE, HE HAS SUBMITTED A LIST OF THE ITEMS TRANSPORTED TOGETHER WITH WHAT APPEARS TO BE THE ESTIMATED WEIGHTS FOR EACH ITEM OR CATEGORY OF ITEMS. THE RECORD CONTAINS NO INFORMATION AS TO THE BASIS FOR MR. BOETTCHER'S ASSIGNMENT OF WEIGHTS TO THE VARIOUS ITEMS. THE FACT THAT THE ASSIGNED WEIGHTS FOR 35 OF THE 36 ITEMS ARE GIVEN IN MULTIPLES OF 5 POUNDS SUGGESTS THAT THE ASSIGNED WEIGHTS ARE BASED LARGELY ON ESTIMATES. SOME OF THE ITEMS ARE SUFFICIENTLY SMALL THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN WEIGHED ON A BATHROOM SCALE. WHILE ESTIMATED WEIGHTS HAVE BEEN HELD TO BE INSUFFICIENT FOR PAYMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS, ESTIMATED WEIGHTS MAY, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, FURNISH A BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES TO THE EXTENT THAT THOSE EXPENSES DO NOT EXCEED THE COMMUTED RATE APPLICABLE TO THE ESTIMATED WEIGHTS. B-163560, APRIL 5, 1968; B-165846, JANUARY 8, 1969; 38 COMP. GEN. 554 (1959). HOWEVER, REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES BASED ON ESTIMATED WEIGHTS IS LIMITED TO THOSE SITUATIONS IN WHICH THE EVIDENCE AFFORDS A REASONABLE BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED APPROXIMATES THE ESTIMATED WEIGHTS. 48 COMP. GEN. 115, SUPRA; B-170353, SEPTEMBER 3, 1970; B-174098, DECEMBER 8, 1971, AND B-178008, APRIL 18, 1973.

MR. BOETTCHER HAS FURNISHED ONLY AN ESTIMATED WEIGHT AND HAS PROVIDED NO INFORMATION WHICH WOULD SUBSTANTIATE THE ACCURACY OF THAT WEIGHT. EXPLAINING THE REASON THAT HE UNDERTOOK TO MOVE A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS HIMSELF, MR. BOETTCHER STATES THAT HE DID SO TO "AVOID EXCEEDING THE DOLLAR LIMITATION IMPOSED BY GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS ON COMMERCIAL MOVING." IN VIEW OF THIS STATEMENT AND THE FACT THAT THE MAJORITY OF HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WERE TRANSPORTED BY A COMMERCIAL MOVER, WE PRESUME THAT HE HAD OBTAINED AN ESTIMATED MOVING COST FROM A COMMERCIAL MOVER FOR MOVING ALL HIS EFFECTS. IN GIVING SUCH AN ESTIMATED COST, IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR COMMERCIAL MOVERS TO ESTIMATE THE WEIGHT OF THE LOAD, AND WE HAVE IN THE PAST ACCEPTED THE ESTIMATE OF A COMMERCIAL MOVER AS VERIFICATION OF THE ACCURACY OF THE WEIGHT ESTIMATED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE. B-170353, SUPRA, AND B 178008, SUPRA.

ACCORDINGLY, WHILE MR. BOETTCHER'S CLAIM MAY NOT BE ALLOWED ON THE PRESENT RECORD, IF HE SUBMITS EVIDENCE TO OUR TRANSPORTATION AND CLAIMS DIVISION SIMILAR TO THAT STATED ABOVE, WHICH CORRABORATES HIS ESTIMATE THAT THE WEIGHT TRANSPORTED WAS 3,497 POUNDS, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM, INCLUDING EXPENSES FOR TRAILER RENTAL, GAS, OIL, ETC., TO THE EXTENT THAT THOSE EXPENSES DO NOT EXCEED THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATE FOR 3,497 POUNDS TRANSPORTED BY A SINGLE TRIP BETWEEN HIS OLD AND NEW DUTY STATIONS.