B-183013, MAR 20, 1975

B-183013: Mar 20, 1975

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EMPLOYEE OF FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION WHO WAS TRANSFERRED ON MARCH 5. THEN WAS SENT TO GEORGIA FOR GRADUATE TRAINING AND THEN RETURNED TO WASHINGTON. CHASSIE WHICH WERE INCURRED WHEN HE PURCHASED A HOME IN RESTON. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM DOVER. HE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM WASHINGTON. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED BACK TO WASHINGTON. THIS CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY MR. AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSING AN EMPLOYEE FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN PURCHASING A RESIDENCE AT A NEW OFFICIAL STATION IS CONTAINED IN 5 U.S.C. 5724AA)(4) AND IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS. THE IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS WERE ORIGINALLY PROMULGATED BY THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMP). INITIALLY THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS ONE YEAR RULE WAS THE SITUATION IN WHICH THE PURCHASE WAS DELAYED BECAUSE OF LITIGATION. 1969.

B-183013, MAR 20, 1975

EMPLOYEE OF FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION WHO WAS TRANSFERRED ON MARCH 5, 1973, FROM DOVER, DELAWARE, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., THEN WAS SENT TO GEORGIA FOR GRADUATE TRAINING AND THEN RETURNED TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND BOUGHT A HOME MORE THAN ONE YEAR BUT LESS THAN TWO YEARS AFTER LEAVING DELAWARE MAY, WITHIN DISCRETION OF APPROPRIATE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS, RECOVER REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED IN PURCHASE OF NEW HOME.

RONALD G. CHASSIE - REAL ESTATE EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH RESIDENCE TRANSACTION UPON MOVE TO NEW OFFICIAL STATION:

THIS DECISION INVOLVES THE PROPRIETY OF REIMBURSING REAL ESTATE EXPENSES TO MR. RONALD G. CHASSIE WHICH WERE INCURRED WHEN HE PURCHASED A HOME IN RESTON, VIRGINIA, INCIDENT TO A TRANSFER FROM DOVER, DELAWARE, TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM DOVER, DELAWARE, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., WITH A DUTY REPORTING DATE OF MARCH 5, 1973. SEPTEMBER 10, 1973, HE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, FOR TWELVE MONTHS OF OUTSERVICE GRADUATE TRAINING. BY TRAVEL ORDER DATED AUGUST 2, 1974, MR. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED BACK TO WASHINGTON, D.C., BECAUSE HE HAD COMPLETED HIS TRAINING. AFTER THE MOVE MR. CHASSIE PURCHASED A HOME IN RESTON, VIRGINIA, ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1974, AND IN THIS REGARD HE CLAIMS REAL ESTATE EXPENSES OF $762.25. THIS CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY MR. CHASSIE'S EMPLOYER, THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE HE DID NOT PURCHASE HIS HOME WITHIN THE REQUIRED ONE YEAR AFTER HIS ORIGINAL TRANSFER TO WASHINGTON, D.C. BY MEMORANDUM OF NOVEMBER 7, 1974, MR. CHASSIE REQUESTED AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO PURCHASE HIS HOME BEYOND THE ONE YEAR TIME LIMITATION UPON WHICH THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION HAD BASED THE DISALLOWANCE. IN RESPONSE TO THIS MEMORANDUM THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION, THROUGH MR. E.G. SMITH, AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, HAS REQUESTED A DECISION IN THE MATTER.

AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSING AN EMPLOYEE FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN PURCHASING A RESIDENCE AT A NEW OFFICIAL STATION IS CONTAINED IN 5 U.S.C. 5724AA)(4) AND IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS. THE IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS WERE ORIGINALLY PROMULGATED BY THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMP). THE PERTINENT REGULATIONS IN OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 ORIGINALLY IMPOSED A ONE YEAR TIME LIMITATION FOR COMPLETION OF THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE AT A NEW OFFICIAL STATION IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR AN ALLOWANCE FOR REAL ESTATE EXPENSES. INITIALLY THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS ONE YEAR RULE WAS THE SITUATION IN WHICH THE PURCHASE WAS DELAYED BECAUSE OF LITIGATION. 1969, THE REGULATIONS WERE AMENDED TO PERMIT AN EXTENSION OF TIME FOR REASONS OTHER THAN LITIGATION WHEN A VALID CONTRACT FOR THE PURCHASE OF A HOME HAD BEEN EXECUTED WITHIN THE INITIAL ONE YEAR PERIOD FROM THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE REPORTED TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION. NEITHER OF THESE EXCEPTIONS APPLIED TO MR. CHASSIE'S SITUATION. THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION APPARENTLY BASED ITS DENIAL OF MR. CHASSIE'S CLAIM ON THESE ORIGINAL REGULATIONS.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11609 OF JULY 22, 1971, DELEGATED TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF GENERAL SERVICES THE AUTHORITY TO PROMULGATE REGULATIONS PRESCRIBING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, EMPLOYEE RELOCATION ALLOWANCES. THE REGULATIONS, PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56, WERE ADOPTED AND PRESCRIBED BY THE GSA IN FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS (FPMR) TEMPORARY REGULATION A-8. ON OCTOBER 28, 1972, THE GSA AMENDED FPMR TEMPORARY REGULATION A-8 TO CHANGE THE CRITERIA FOR AUTHORIZING EXTENSIONS OF TIME WITHIN WHICH EMPLOYEES MUST COMPLETE RESIDENCE TRANSACTIONS IN ORDER TO RECEIVE ALLOWANCES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56. THE AMENDMENT WAS IN EFFECT WHEN MR. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM DOVER, DELAWARE, TO WASHINGTON, D.C. THE REVISION IS CURRENTLY SET FORTH IN THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7), PARAGRAPH 2-6.1E (MAY 1, 1973). THE NEW REGULATION STATES:

"E. TIME LIMITATION. THE SETTLEMENT DATES FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE OF LEASE TERMINATION TRANSACTIONS FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS REQUESTED ARE NOT LATER THAN 1 (INITIAL) YEAR AFTER THE DATE ON WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REPORTED FOR DUTY AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION. UPON AN EMPLOYEE'S WRITTEN REQUEST THIS TIME LIMIT FROM COMPLETION OF THE SALE AND PURCHASE OR LEASE TERMINATION TRANSACTION MAY BE EXTENDED BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY OR HIS DESIGNEE FOR AN ADDITIONAL PERIOD OF TIME, NOT TO EXCEED 1 YEAR, REGARDLESS OF THE REASONS THEREFOR SO LONG AS IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE PARTICULAR RESIDENCE TRANSACTION IS REASONABLY RELATED TO THE TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION."

THIS AMENDMENT APPEARED ORIGINALLY IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER, VOLUME 37, PART 10, PAGE 23129.

OUR PREVIOUS INTERPRETATION OF THESE PROVISIONS HAS BEEN THAT THE REGULATION THUS AMENDED PERMITS AN EXTENSION OF AN ADDITIONAL ONE YEAR "TO BE GRANTED AT THE DISCRETION OF THE AGENCY FOR ANY JUSTIFIABLE REASON AS LONG AS THE TRANSACTION IS REASONABLY RELATED TO THE EMPLOYEE'S TRANSFER, 'AND' THE REQUEST HAS BEEN MADE IN WRITING WITHIN THE TIME LIMITATION AS REQUIRED BY THE REGULATION." SEE B-181983, JANUARY 3, 1975 (54 COMP. GEN. ), B-168914, FEBRUARY 12, 1975.

ACCORDINGLY, WE HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF MR. CHASSIE'S REQUEST FOR A ONE YEAR EXTENSION FOR THE PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE IN RESTON, VIRGINIA, NOT TO EXCEED TWO YEARS FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF HIS TRANSFER TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

IF ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL IS GIVEN FOR MR. CHASSIE'S REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME HE MAY BE FOUND ELIGIBLE TO RECOVER THE REAL ESTATE EXPENSES WHICH HE INCURRED INCIDENT TO HIS PURCHASE OF A RESIDENCE AT RESTON. OF COURSE, THIS ASSUMES THAT HIS CLAIMS ARE APPROPRIATE EXPENSES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56, ADOPTED BY THE GSA THROUGH FPMR TEMPORARY REGULATION A-8, WHICH WERE IN EFFECT WHEN MR. CHASSIE WAS TRANSFERRED FROM DOVER, DELAWARE, TO WASHINGTON, D.C. ACTION ON THE CLAIM SHOULD BE TAKEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.