B-184290, OCT 3, 1975

B-184290: Oct 3, 1975

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CERTAIN LEGAL EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH SELLING ONE'S RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF POSITIONS ARE REIMBURSABLE TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES. SERVICES OF AN ADVISORY NATURE ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE. THE ENTIRE CLAIM WILL BE DISALLOWED IF SUBMITTED AS A GENERAL CLAIM FOR LEGAL EXPENSES. PAYMENT MAY BE AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN ITEMIZED SUBMISSIONS ARE MADE NOTING ALLOWABLE SERVICES PERFORMED AND THE DOLLAR AMOUNT LISTED FOR EACH SERVICE RENDERED. SMITH - REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN LEGAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF POSITION: THIS ACTION IS TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO A LETTER DATED JUNE 18. SMITH WAS TRANSFERRED FROM FAIRBANKS. $204.18 IS IN THIS CATEGORY. HE ALSO MENTIONS THAT "WARRANTY DEEDS WERE PREPARED.

B-184290, OCT 3, 1975

EMPLOYEE REASSIGNED TO NEVADA FROM DUTY STATION IN ALASKA CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR LUMP-SUM LEGAL EXPENSES UPON SALE OF RESIDENCE IN ALASKA. CERTAIN LEGAL EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH SELLING ONE'S RESIDENCE INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF POSITIONS ARE REIMBURSABLE TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES. SERVICES OF AN ADVISORY NATURE ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE. UPON CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ALLOWABLE EXPENSES, THE ENTIRE CLAIM WILL BE DISALLOWED IF SUBMITTED AS A GENERAL CLAIM FOR LEGAL EXPENSES. HOWEVER, PAYMENT MAY BE AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN ITEMIZED SUBMISSIONS ARE MADE NOTING ALLOWABLE SERVICES PERFORMED AND THE DOLLAR AMOUNT LISTED FOR EACH SERVICE RENDERED.

FRANK R. SMITH - REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN LEGAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF POSITION:

THIS ACTION IS TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO A LETTER DATED JUNE 18, 1975, FROM ANNE C. HANSEN, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, BUREAU OF MINES, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, REQUESTING ADVICE WHETHER A RECLAIM VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. FRANK R. SMITH MAY BE PAID REPRESENTING LEGAL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO THE SALE OF A RESIDENCE AT THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD DUTY STATION RESULTING FROM A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION. MR. SMITH WAS TRANSFERRED FROM FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, TO RENO, NEVADA, ON SEPTEMBER 2, 1974.

MR. SMITH HAS SUBMITTED A CLAIM FOR $864.18 REPRESENTING ATTORNEY'S FEES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF HIS FORMER RESIDENCE IN ALASKA. A LETTER DATED APRIL 30, 1975, FROM MR. SMITH'S ATTORNEY BREAKS DOWN THIS LUMP-SUM FEE INTO COMPONENT PARTS OF TIME INVOLVED ($660) PLUS DISBURSEMENT FOR TELEPHONE CALLS ($204.18). IT APPEARS THAT THE ATTORNEY SPENT CONSIDERABLE TIME ARRANGING FOR FINANCING TO ENABLE THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASERS OF THE ALASKA PROPERTY TO COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION. THE ENTIRE AMOUNT BILLED AS TELEPHONE COSTS, $204.18 IS IN THIS CATEGORY. HE ALSO MENTIONS THAT "WARRANTY DEEDS WERE PREPARED, POWERS OF ATTORNEY WERE DRAFTED AND SENT, AND ESCROW CLOSED" AS PART OF THE SERVICES INCLUDED IN THE $660 LISTED FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES.

AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN LEGAL EXPENSES TO TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEES IS FOUND IN 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5724A (1970), AS IMPLEMENTED BY FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 2-6.2C (MAY 1973). THESE REGULATIONS ALLOW AS REIMBURSABLE ONLY SUCH ESSENTIAL LEGAL FEES AS COSTS TO PREPARE CONVEYANCES, CONTRACTS, AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS; COSTS OF SURVEYS, NOTARY AND RECORDING FEES; AND SIMILAR EXPENSES. IF SUCH COSTS WERE REIMBURSED AS PART OF A BROKER'S FEE, THEY MAY NOT BE ALLOWED AS LEGAL EXPENSES.

WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT THERE CAN BE NO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF PURELY ADVISORY LEGAL SERVICES RENDERED INCIDENT TO THE PURCHASE OR SALE OF A RESIDENCE SINCE SUCH SERVICES ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED IN THE STATUTE OR ITS IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS. WE RECOGNIZE THAT IT MAY BE PRUDENT FOR AN EMPLOYEE TO RETAIN AN ATTORNEY TO ADVISE HIM REGARDING MANY REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS, BUT THERE IS NO LEGAL OR REGULATORY REQUIREMENT THAT WE ARE AWARE OF WHICH REQUIRES THAT AN ATTORNEY BE RETAINED FOR THIS PURPOSE. SEE B-182130, OCTOBER 31, 1974. IT APPEARS THAT THE BULK OF THE FEE IN QUESTION IS CLEARLY OF AN ADVISORY NATURE. SERVICES PERFORMED IN ARRANGING FINANCING AND NEGOTIATING WITH THE PARTIES INVOLVED TO COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION ARE NOT OF THE NATURE CONTEMPLATED BY THE STATUTE OR ITS REGULATIONS. 48 COMP. GEN. 469 (1969). CLEARLY ALL OF THE TELEPHONE EXPENSE WAS INCURRED INCIDENT TO THESE ADVISORY SERVICES AND MAY NOT BE ALLOWED.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE CERTAIN LEGAL SERVICES THAT ARE REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES. AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF ATTORNEY'S SERVICES, IF THE ATTORNEY PREPARES A WARRANTY DEED, PREPARES A POWER OF ATTORNEY, OR PREPARES A CONTRACT OR INSTRUMENTS. REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH SERVICES WILL BE ALLOWED ONLY WHEN AN ITEMIZED STATEMENT IS SUBMITTED BY THE ATTORNEY ALLOCATING DOLLAR AMOUNTS TO EACH SERVICE RENDERED. THERE CAN BE NO REIMBURSEMENT BASED UPON A LUMP-SUM BILL, OR UPON A BILL CONTAINING AN ITEMIZED LIST OF SERVICES, BUT NO DOLLAR AMOUNT FOR EACH SERVICE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE CLAIM MAY NOT BE PAID.