B-185338, FEB 19, 1976

B-185338: Feb 19, 1976

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WHO WAS NOTIFIED FEBRUARY 22. MIGHT HAVE ARRANGED FAMILY MOVE BEFORE REPORTING TO NEW STATION IF SHE HAD BEEN GIVEN EARLIER NOTICE. RUNNING OF 30-DAY CONSECUTIVE PERIOD OF HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS IS NOT STOPPED DURING PERIOD OF EMPLOYEE'S RETURN TO FORMER STATION TO ARRANGE FAMILY MOVE SINCE RETURN MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS ATTRIBUTABLE OF "OFFICIAL NECESSITY" UNDER FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 2-5.2A (MAY 1973). NORDQUIST IS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE. SHE WAS OFFERED AND ACCEPTED A POSITION REQUIRING HER TRANSFER TO BLUE RIVER. SHE WAS TOLD TO REPORT TO HER NEW DUTY STATION ON MARCH 4. WE ARE TOLD THAT THE FOREST SERVICE RECOGNIZED AT THAT TIME THAT THE PERIOD BETWEEN FEBRUARY 22 AND MARCH 4.

B-185338, FEB 19, 1976

EMPLOYEE, WHO WAS NOTIFIED FEBRUARY 22, 1974, OF TRANSFER EFFECTIVE MARCH 4, 1974, MIGHT HAVE ARRANGED FAMILY MOVE BEFORE REPORTING TO NEW STATION IF SHE HAD BEEN GIVEN EARLIER NOTICE. NEVERTHELESS, RUNNING OF 30-DAY CONSECUTIVE PERIOD OF HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS IS NOT STOPPED DURING PERIOD OF EMPLOYEE'S RETURN TO FORMER STATION TO ARRANGE FAMILY MOVE SINCE RETURN MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS ATTRIBUTABLE OF "OFFICIAL NECESSITY" UNDER FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 2-5.2A (MAY 1973).

BEVERLY J. NORDQUIST - TEMPORARY QUARTERS:

THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, BY ITS AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, REQUESTS AN INTERPRETATION OF THE PHRASE "OFFICIAL NECESSITY" APPEARING AT FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 2-5.2A (MAY 1973) AS IT PERTAINS TO THE TRANSFER SITUATION OF MRS. BEVERLY J. NORDQUIST.

MRS. NORDQUIST IS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, FORMERLY STATIONED IN BAKER, OREGON. ON FEBRUARY 22, 1974, SHE WAS OFFERED AND ACCEPTED A POSITION REQUIRING HER TRANSFER TO BLUE RIVER, OREGON. SHE WAS TOLD TO REPORT TO HER NEW DUTY STATION ON MARCH 4, 1974. WE ARE TOLD THAT THE FOREST SERVICE RECOGNIZED AT THAT TIME THAT THE PERIOD BETWEEN FEBRUARY 22 AND MARCH 4, 1974, AFFORDED MRS. NORDQUIST LITTLE TIME TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR HER FAMILY'S MOVE TO BLUE RIVER, BUT FELT NONETHELESS THAT THE EARLY DATE FOR REPORTING TO HER NEW DUTY STATION WAS A MATTER OF NECESSITY.

HAVING REPORTED TO BLUE RIVER ON MARCH 2, 1974, MRS. NORDQUIST OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS FROM THAT DATE UNTIL MARCH 15 WHEN SHE WAS ABLE TO RETURN TO BAKER TO ARRANGE TO MOVE HER FAMILY AND HOUSETRAILER TO HER NEW OFFICIAL STATION. THEREAFTER SHE RETURNED TO BLUE RIVER WITH HER FAMILY AND, WITH THEM, OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS FROM MARCH 21 THROUGH APRIL 5, 1974. PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE TO MRS. NORDQUIST OF THE TEMPORARY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY 5 U.S.C. SEC. SEC. 5724AA)(3) FOR THE PERIOD OF 30 CONSECUTIVE DAYS FROM MARCH 2 THROUGH MARCH 31, 1974.

THE CASE IS BEFORE US ON THE BASIS OF MRS. NORDQUIST'S RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR THE 4-DAY PERIOD FROM APRIL 1 THROUGH APRIL 5, 1974. RECOGNIZING THAT THE APPLICABLE REGULATION IN GENERAL AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR A PERIOD OF 30 CONSECUTIVE DAYS, THE EMPLOYEE ARGUES THAT THE INTERRUPTION OF HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR THE 5-DAY PERIOD FROM MARCH 16 THROUGH MARCH 20, 1974, OF HER RETURN TO BAKER SHOULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY AND AS SUCH SHOULD BE REGARDED AS SUSPENDING THE RUNNING OF THE 30-DAY PERIOD. CONCURRENCE WITH THIS ANALYSIS WOULD SUSPEND MRS. NORDQUIST'S ENTITLEMENT FROM MARCH 16 THROUGH MARCH 20, 1974, DURING WHICH SHE ABANDONED HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS, ENABLING HER TO CLAIM TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR THE PERIOD FROM APRIL 1 THROUGH APRIL 5, 1974, DURING WHICH SHE AND HER FAMILY WERE IN OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS. THE MONETARY AMOUNT OF HER CLAIM IS $91.50.

IN QUESTION HERE IS THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE OF FTR PARA. 2-5.2A (MAY 1973):

"A. LENGTH OF TIME ALLOWED AND LOCATION OF NEW OFFICIAL STATION. SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE FOR WHOM A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AND EACH MEMBER OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY (DEFINED IN 2-1.4D) SHALL BE ALLOWED FOR A PERIOD OF NOT MORE THAN 30 CONSECUTIVE DAYS WHILE THE EMPLOYEE AND FAMILY NECESSARILY OCCUPY TEMPORARY QUARTERS AND THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION IS LOCATED IN THE 50 STATES, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS, THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO AND THE CANAL ZONE; PROVIDED A WRITTEN AGREEMENT AS REQUIRED IN 2-1.5A(1) IS SIGNED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSFER. THE PERIOD OF CONSECUTIVE DAYS MAY BE INTERRUPTED FOR THE TIME THAT IS ALLOWED FOR TRAVEL BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS OR FOR CIRCUMSTANCES ATTRIBUTABLE TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY, AS, FOR EXAMPLE, AN INTERVENING TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. THE 30-DAY LIMITATION APPLIES WHEN EMPLOYEES TRANSFER FROM OFFICIAL STATIONS LOCATED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES TO OFFICIAL STATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES; HOWEVER, WHEN TEMPORARY LODGINGS ARE OBTAINED IN A FOREIGN AREA THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR AN ALLOWANCE UNDER THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS (GOVERNMENT CIVILIANS, FOREIGN AREAS)."

IN ARGUING THAT INTERRUPTION IN HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS FROM MARCH 16 THROUGH MARCH 20, 1974, WAS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL NECESSITY, MRS. NORDQUIST CLAIMS THAT THE 5-DAY PERIOD OF HER RETURN TO BAKER WOULD HAVE BEEN UNNECESSARY BUT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE'S NEED FOR HER SERVICES AT BLUE RIVER ON MARCH 4, 1974. IN EFFECT, SHE ARGUES THAT IF SHE HAD BEEN NOTIFIED OF TRANSFER EARLIER THAN FEBRUARY 22, 1974, OR IN THE EVENT THAT SHE HAD BEEN ABLE TO DELAY HER REPORTING DATE BEYOND MARCH 4, 1974, SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO COMPLETE MOVING ARRANGEMENTS BEFORE REPORTING TO BLUE RIVER, OBVIATING THE NECESSITY FOR HER RETURN TO BAKER. MRS. NORDQUIST POINTS OUT SEVERAL CIRCUMSTANCES THAT DELAYED HER MOVE, INCLUDING THE FACT THAT HER HUSBAND'S JOB RESPONSIBILITIES PRECLUDED HIS ASSISTING IN THE MOVE, THE FACT THAT SHE HAD TO LOCATE SUITABLE HOUSING IN ORDER THAT HER DAUGHTER COULD REMAIN TO COMPLETE HER SENIOR YEAR AT BAKER HIGH SCHOOL AND THE FACT THAT SHE HAD TO ARRANGE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION AND RELOCATION OF THE 14' BY 60' MOBILE HOME.

THE EMPLOYEE CORRECTLY POINTS OUT THAT INTERPRETATION OF THE TERM "OFFICIAL NECESSITY" IS NOT RESTRICTED TO THE SITUATION INVOLVING ONLY A DETAIL OR TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. FINDING THAT INTERRUPTION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS FOR ARMY RESERVE TRAINING WAS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL NECESSITY WE STATED IN B-181482, FEBRUARY 18, 1975, AS FOLLOWS:

"ALTHOUGH IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT IN THE DRAFTING OF THE REGULATION IN QUESTION, 'OFFICIAL NECESSITY' WAS PROBABLY REGARDED AS PERTAINING TO THE OFFICIAL DUTIES OF THE AGENCY TRANSFERRING ITS EMPLOYEES, WE SEE NO REASON WHY THE INTERPRETATION SHOULD NOT INCLUDE AN INTERRUPTION DUE TO TEMPORARY MILITARY DUTY. THUS, AN EMPLOYEE'S ENTITLEMENT TO TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE REIMBURSEMENT UPON HIS TRANSFER SHOULD NOT BE REDUCED BY REASON OF THE MILITARY DUTY OBLIGATION FALLING WITHIN HIS PERIOD OF TRANSIT."

NONETHELESS, WE HAVE CONTINUED TO RECOGNIZE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN AN INTERRUPTION IN OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS THAT IS THE RESULT OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OBLIGATION TO THE GOVERNMENT OR HIS PARTICULAR AGENCY AND AN INTERRUPTION THAT IS FOR PERSONAL REASONS. B-166566, MAY 21, 1969; B-169525, MAY 11, 1970; B-170926, JUNE 2, 1971. CF. B-171715, FEBRUARY 24, 1971.

THE ARGUMENT OFFERED BY CLAIMANT IN JUSTIFICATION OF A FINDING THAT INTERRUPTION OF HER PERIOD OF OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS WAS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL NECESSITY SUPPOSES AN OBLIGATION ON THE PART OF HER EMPLOYING AGENCY TO SCHEDULE HER TRANSFER IN A MANNER TO BEST FACILITATE HER MOVING ARRANGEMENTS. THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBILITIES WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEES ARE PRESCRIBED IN APPLICABLE STATUTES AND REGULATIONS AND, IN GENERAL, REQUIRE OR PERMIT THE PAYMENT OF PARTICULAR ALLOWANCES. WE ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY OBLIGATION ON THE GOVERNMENT'S PART TO FURNISH THE EMPLOYEE A MINIMUM PERIOD OF NOTICE OF TRANSFER.

WHILE MRS. NORDQUIST WAS UNABLE TO ARRANGE FOR HER FAMILY'S MOVE WITHIN THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 22 TO MARCH 4, 1974, THAT INABILITY WAS IN PART A CONSEQUENCE OF HER FAMILY'S PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES AS INDICATED ABOVE. HER SITUATION IS REALLY NO DIFFERENT IN PRINCIPLE THAN THAT OF AN EMPLOYEE WITH MORE EXTENDED NOTICE OF TRANSFER WHO INTERRUPTS HIS OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS TO RETURN TO HIS OLD DUTY STATION TO ATTEND TO THE SALE OF HIS FORMER RESIDENCE - A SITUATION THAT OCCURS WITH SOME FREQUENCY. BOTH CASES THE NECESSITY FOR INTERRUPTING OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS IS ONE THAT ARISES AS A RESULT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PARTICULAR PERSONAL SITUATION AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER. IN EITHER CASE THE ARGUMENT CAN BE MADE THAT A MORE EXTENDED PERIOD OF NOTICE WOULD HAVE OBVIATED THE NECESSITY FOR THE EMPLOYEE'S RETURN TO HIS OLD DUTY STATION AFTER TRANSFER. WE ARE THEREFORE UNABLE TO AGREE WITH THE CLAIMANT'S VIEW THAT THE INTERRUPTION OF HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS WAS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL NECESSITY AS THAT TERM IS USED IN PARAGRAPH 2-5.2A OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS, QUOTED ABOVE.

IN REVIEWING MRS. NORDQUIST'S CLAIM, WE NOTE THAT THE COMPUTATION OF HER ENTITLEMENT WAS BASED ON HER OCCUPANCY OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS COMMENCING MARCH 2, 1974. IN SO COMPUTING HER ENTITLEMENT, HER CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES FOR HERSELF AND HER FAMILY FOR THE PERIOD FROM APRIL 1 THROUGH APRIL 5, 1974, IS EXCLUDED. UNDER PARAGRAPH 2 5.2E OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THE PERIOD OF MRS. NORDQUIST'S CLAIM MAY COMMENCE AT ANY TIME WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE SHE REPORTED TO HER NEW DUTY STATION OR WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE HER FAMILY VACATED ITS RESIDENCE QUARTERS. IT APPEARS THAT IT MAY BE MORE TO HER ADVANTAGE TO COMPUTE HER TEMPORARY QUARTERS ENTITLEMENT BASED ON A 30-DAY PERIOD COMMENCING MARCH 7, 1974, THUS EXCLUDING FROM THE COMPUTATION THE PERIOD FROM MARCH 2 THROUGH MARCH 6, 1974, DURING WHICH SHE OCCUPIED TEMPORARY QUARTERS ALONE.

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