B-181450, OCT 18, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 301

B-181450: Oct 18, 1974

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TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - COMMUTATION - SHIPMENT OF AUTOMOBILES PRECLUDED EMPLOYEE WHO SHIPS AUTOMOBILE FROM OLD OFFICIAL DUTY STATION TO NEW OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AS PART OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS EVEN THOUGH STILL WITHIN THE WEIGHT LIMITION IS ENTITLED ONLY TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS BUT NOT FOR SHIPMENT OF HIS AUTOMOBILE SINCE CHAPTER 2. TO SETTLE HIS RENTAL AGREEMENT AND TO COMPLETE HIS MOVING ARRANGEMENTS IS NOT ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THIS PURPOSE EVEN THOUGH ERRONEOUSLY ADVISED OTHERWISE. 1974: THIS IS IN RESPONSE FOR A REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION FROM THE ASSOCIATE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT.

B-181450, OCT 18, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 301

TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - COMMUTATION - SHIPMENT OF AUTOMOBILES PRECLUDED EMPLOYEE WHO SHIPS AUTOMOBILE FROM OLD OFFICIAL DUTY STATION TO NEW OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AS PART OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS EVEN THOUGH STILL WITHIN THE WEIGHT LIMITION IS ENTITLED ONLY TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS BUT NOT FOR SHIPMENT OF HIS AUTOMOBILE SINCE CHAPTER 2, SUBSECTION 2-1.4H, FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS, SPECIFICALLY PRECLUDES THE SHIPMENT OF AN AUTOMOBILE AS HOUSEHOLD GOODS. TRAVEL EXPENSES - TRANSFERS - EMPLOYEE RETURN TO OLD STATION - TO COMPLETE MOVING ARRANGEMENTS AN EMPLOYEE WHO HAS REPORTED TO NEW OFFICIAL DUTY STATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND THEREAFTER RETURNS TO HIS OLD DUTY STATION IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, TO SETTLE HIS RENTAL AGREEMENT AND TO COMPLETE HIS MOVING ARRANGEMENTS IS NOT ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THIS PURPOSE EVEN THOUGH ERRONEOUSLY ADVISED OTHERWISE.

IN THE MATTER OF PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES, OCTOBER 18, 1974:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE FOR A REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION FROM THE ASSOCIATE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, WHETHER A TRAVEL VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,027.49, SUBMITTED BY MR. LEONEL V. MIRANDA, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, COVERING TRANSPORTATION OF AUTOMOBILE AND ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF DUTY STATION, MR. MIRANDA TRAVELED FROM LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., EFFECTIVE JUNE 4, 1973. ON HIS ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER DATED JULY 2, 1973, MR. MIRANDA CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR A SHIPMENT OF 5,800 POUNDS OF PERSONAL GOODS; HE WAS ALLOWED THE COMMUTED RATE FOR SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH AMOUNTED TO 2,750 POUNDS. A PAYMENT OF $923.59, FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 3,050 POUNDS SHIPMENT, APPLICABLE TO TRANSPORTING HIS AUTOMOBILE, WAS DISALLOWED. ALSO, IN CONJUNCTION WITH A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT TO ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, MR. MIRANDA RETURNED TO LOS ANGELES ON JUNE 12, 1973, TO SETTLE HIS RENTAL AGREEMENT AND TO SHIP HOUSEHOLD GOODS. HIS CLAIM FOR $78 AIRFARE FROM LOS ANGELES TO ALBUQUERQUE, IN ADDITION TO RELATED EXPENDITURES FOR TAXI, LIMOUSINE, AND EXTRA BAGGAGE CHARGES OF $25.90, WAS DISALLOWED. THIS RETURN TRIP WAS MADE TO THE OLD OFFICIAL STATION AFTER HAVING REPORTED FOR DUTY AT HIS NEW OFFICIAL STATION.

FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS (FPMR), 101-7, MAY 1, 1973, CHAPTER 2, SUBSECTION 2-1.4H (FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS) IN FORCE AT THE TIME IN QUESTION, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

H. HOUSEHOLD GOODS. PERSONAL PROPERTY WHICH MAY BE TRANSPORTED LEGALLY IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE AND WHICH BELONGS TO AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AT THE TIME SHIPMENT OR STORAGE BEGINS. THE TERM INCLUDES HOUSEHOLD FURNISHINGS, EQUIPMENT AND APPLIANCES, FURNITURE, CLOTHING, BOOKS, AND SIMILAR PROPERTY. IT DOES NOT INCLUDE PROPERTY WHICH IS FOR RESALE OR DISPOSAL RATHER THAN FOR USE BY THE EMPLOYEE OR MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY; NOR DOES IT INCLUDE SUCH ITEMS AS AUTOMOBILES, STATION WAGONS, MOTORCYCLES, AND SIMILAR MOTOR VEHICLES, AIRPLANES, MOBILE HOMES, CAMPER TRAILERS, BOATS, BIRDS, PETS, LIVESTOCK, CORDWOOD, BUILDING MATERIALS, PROPERTY BELONGING TO ANY PERSONS OTHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE OR HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY, OR ANY PROPERTY INTENDED FOR USE IN CONDUCTING A BUSINESS OR OTHER COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE.

THIS REGULATION WOULD PRECLUDE SHIPMENT OF AN AUTOMOBILE AS HOUSEHOLD GOODS BY THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM. IN ADDITION WE HAVE HELD AS A RECOGNIZED POLICY OF OUR OFFICE THAT NO AUTHORITY EXISTS TO TRANSPORT THE PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE OF AN EMPLOYEE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE BETWEEN DUTY STATIONS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES. SEE B-176224, JULY 27, 1972. THIS POLICY HAS BEEN FOLLOWED REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY AN AGENCY OFFICIAL THAT SUCH A PAYMENT WAS PROPER OR THAT HIS TRAVEL ORDER INCLUDED SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FOR SHIPMENT OF THE AUTOMOBILE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. SEE B-163936, MAY 3, 1968.

THE CLAIM FOR $78 AIRFARE FROM LOS ANGELES TO ALBUQUERQUE AND RELATED EXPENDITURES FOR TAXI, LIMOUSINES AND EXTRA BAGGAGE CHARGES OF $25.90 WERE INCURRED BY MR. MIRANDA WHEN HE RETURNED TO HIS OLD DUTY STATION IN LOS ANGELES TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND TO SETTLE HIS LEAVE ARRANGEMENT.

MR. MIRANDA MADE HIS INITIAL TRIP TO WASHINGTON, D.C. ON OR ABOUT JUNE 4, 1973, REPORTED TO AND ENTERED ON DUTY AT HIS NEW DUTY STATION. SUCH BEING THE CASE THE CONCLUSION IS WARRANTED THAT THE CHANGE OF STATION AUTHORIZED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS ACCOMPLISHED AND HIS TRAVEL EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT THEREBY BECAME FIXED. THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS UNABLE TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND TO SETTLE HIS LEASE AGREEMENT PRIOR TO HIS TRANSFER IS NOT CONSIDERED AS JUSTIFYING PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF A SECOND TRIP FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO THE OLD DUTY STATION. SEE B-167022, JUNE 18, 1969.

MR. MIRANDA STATES THAT HE WAS ADVISED BY AN OFFICIAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR THAT HE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER WHICH INCLUDED THE COST OF TRANSPORTING HIS AUTOMOBILE AND THAT HE WOULD BE ALLOWED TO COME TO WASHINGTON, D.C. TO FIND A HOME AND RETURN TO CALIFORNIA AND CLOSE HIS HOME THERE. WHEN A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE ACTS OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF THE AUTHORITY ACTUALLY HELD BY HIM, THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ESTOPPED TO DENY HIS UNAUTHORIZED OR MISLEADING REPRESENTATIONS, COMMITMENTS, OR ACTS, BECAUSE THOSE WHO DEAL WITH A GOVERNMENT AGENT, OFFICER, OR EMPLOYEE ARE DEEMED TO HAVE NOTICE OF THE LIMITATIONS ON HIS AUTHORITY, AND ALSO BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL MIGHT BE ESTOPPED, THE PUBLIC SHOULD NOT SUFFER FOR THE ACT OR REPRESENTATION OF A SINGLE GOVERNMENT AGENT. UTAH POWER & LIGHT CO. V. UNITED STATES, 243 U.S. 389 (1917); BIANCO V. UNITED STATES, 171 CT. CL. 719 (1965); BORNSTEIN V. UNITED STATES, 170 CT. CL. 576, 345 F.2D 558 (1965); POTTER V. UNITED STATES, 167 CT. CL. 28 (1964), CERT. DENIED, 382 U.S. 817 (1965); VOGT BROS. MFG. CO. V. UNITED STATES, 160 CT. CL. 687 (1963); BYRNE ORGANIZATION, INC. V. UNITED STATES, 152 CT. CL. 578, 287 F.2D 582 (1961); NATIONAL ELECTRONICS LAB., INC. V. UNITED STATES, 148 CT. CL. 308 (1960). THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT ESTOPPED FROM REPUDIATING ADVICE GIVEN BY ONE OF ITS OFFICIALS IF THAT ADVICE IS ERRONEOUS. VON KALINOWSKI V. UNITED STATES, 151 CT. CL. 172 (1960), CERT. DENIED, 368 U.S. 829 (1961). WHERE A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL APPROVES AND PROMISES REIMBURSEMENT BEYOND THAT ALLOWED BY APPLICABLE LAW, ANY PAYMENTS MADE UNDER SUCH UNAUTHORIZED ACTIONS ARE RECOVERABLE BY THE GOVERNMENT. W. PENN HOROLOGICAL INST. V. UNITED STATES, 146 CT. CL. 540 (1959).

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THE VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.