B-189577, NOV 2, 1977

B-189577: Nov 2, 1977

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HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE WERE TRANSPORTED TO STORAGE FACILITY 48 MILES FROM NEW DUTY STATION. EMPLOYEE'S REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION AND TEMPORARY STORAGE UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM WAS LESS THAN EMPLOYEE'S ACTUAL COST AND HE REQUESTS THAT REIMBURSEMENT BE COMPUTED ON BASIS OF TWO LINE HAULS. COMPUTATION MAY NOT BE MADE AS REQUESTED SINCE TRANSPORTATION COMMUTED RATE COMPUTATION IS BASED ON DISTANCE FROM OLD STATION TO STORAGE POINT AND COMMUTED RATE STORAGE REIMBURSEMENT INCLUDES TRANSPORTATION FROM STORAGE TO FINAL DESTINATION. OAKLEY - TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM MS. WAS ISSUED INCIDENT TO MR. HE WAS AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT AND TEMPORARY STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS BY THE COMMUTED RATE METHOD.

B-189577, NOV 2, 1977

HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE WERE TRANSPORTED TO STORAGE FACILITY 48 MILES FROM NEW DUTY STATION. EMPLOYEE'S REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION AND TEMPORARY STORAGE UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM WAS LESS THAN EMPLOYEE'S ACTUAL COST AND HE REQUESTS THAT REIMBURSEMENT BE COMPUTED ON BASIS OF TWO LINE HAULS. COMPUTATION MAY NOT BE MADE AS REQUESTED SINCE TRANSPORTATION COMMUTED RATE COMPUTATION IS BASED ON DISTANCE FROM OLD STATION TO STORAGE POINT AND COMMUTED RATE STORAGE REIMBURSEMENT INCLUDES TRANSPORTATION FROM STORAGE TO FINAL DESTINATION.

CHARLES F. OAKLEY - TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM MS. ORRIS C. HUET, AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION CONCERNING THE VOUCHER OF MR. CHARLES F. OAKLEY, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. MR. OAKLEY HAS ASKED FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN TRANSPORTATION CHARGES INCURRED IN MOVING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION.

TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 020300052, DATED MAY 12, 1976, WAS ISSUED INCIDENT TO MR. OAKLEY'S TRANSFER FROM OROFINO, IDAHO, TO CUSTER, SOUTH DAKOTA. HE WAS AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT AND TEMPORARY STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS BY THE COMMUTED RATE METHOD. MR. OAKLEY HAD 4,960 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTED BY BEKINS VAN LINES FROM OROFINO, IDAHO, TO RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA, ON MAY 14, 1976. THE SHIPMENT WAS PLACED IN STORAGE AT RAPID CITY SINCE THIS STORAGE FACILITY WAS THE CLOSEST ONE TO CUSTER, THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION OF THE GOODS. MR. OAKLEY'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE REMOVED FROM STORAGE ON JUNE 16, 1976, AND WERE TRANSPORTED TO HIS NEW RESIDENCE AT CUSTER, 48 MILES FROM RAPID CITY.

MR. OAKLEY CLAIMED TRANSPORTATION CHARGES TOTALING $994.88 AND TEMPORARY STORAGE CHARGES OF $202.86. THE CHARGES WERE BASED ON COMMUTED RATES IN GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) BULLETIN FPMR A 2. HE WAS REIMBURSED THESE EXPENSES.

MR. OAKLEY HAS SUBMITTED AN ADDITIONAL VOUCHER FOR $493,52. HE CONTENDS THAT THE MOVE SHOULD BE BROKEN DOWN INTO TWO LINE HAULS: (1) TRANSPORTATION OF 4,960 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM OROFINO, IDAHO, TO RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA; AND (2) TRANSPORTATION OF 4,960 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA, TO CUSTER, SOUTH DAKOTA. APPLYING THE APPROPRIATE COMMUTED RATE TO EACH PORTION, MR. OAKELY HAS COMPUTED TRANSPORTATION CHARGES OF $952.32 AND $486.08, FOR A TOTAL OF $1,438.40. AS HE HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN REIMBURSED $944.88, HE NOW SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT OF THE DIFFERENCE, $493.52. THE CERTIFYING OFFICER STATES THAT THE VOUCHER HERE INVOLVED HAS BEEN RECOMPUTED AND INDICATES THAT $7.44 IS DUE. SHE ASKS WHETHER THAT AMOUNT OF ANY AMOUNT IN ADDITION TO THAT ALREADY PAID TO MR. OAKLEY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

IN SITUATIONS SIMILAR TO THAT UNDER CONSIDERATION, WE HAVE HELD THAT THE DISTANCE TO BE USED IN CHOOSING THE APPROPRIATE COMMUTED RATE IS THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE STORAGE FACILITY AND THE OLD OR NEW DUTY STATION, DEPENDING ON WHERE THE GOODS HAVE BEEN PLACED IN STORAGE. B-186351, MAY 10, 1977; B-167488, AUGUST 13, 1969; B-165253, OCTOBER 9, 1968. ACCORDINGLY, THE COMMUTED RATE TO BE USED IN CALCULATING THE COST OF TRANSPORTING MR. OAKLEY'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS IS TO BE DETERMINED BY THE DISTANCE BETWEEN OROFINO, IDAHO, THE OLD DUTY STATION AND RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE LOCATION OF THE STORAGE FACILITY. MR. OAKLEY'S CONTENTION THAT THE DISTANCE SHOULD BE DIVIDED INTO TWO PORTIONS AND THE COMMUTED RATE SHOULD BE APPLIED FOR LINE-HAUL TRANSPORTATION TO EACH PORTION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE REGULATIONS. AS DEFINED BY THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 2-8.3A(1) FTR, "THE COMMUTED RATE INCLUDES COST OF LINE-HAUL TRANSPORTATION, PACKING, CRATING, UNPACKING, DRAYAGE INCIDENT TO TRANSPORTATION, AND OTHER ACCESSORIAL CHARGES." REIMBURSEMENT IS THEN CALUCLATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH FTR PARA. 2-8.3A(2).

MR. OAKELY IS ALSO ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COSTS OF TEMPORARY STORAGE OF HIS GOODS AT RAPID CITY AND DRAYAGE TO CUSTER, AS LONG AS THESE COSTS DO NOT EXCEED THE COMMUTED RATES FOR STORAGE AS PROVIDED IN GSA BULLETIN FPMR A-2. PARAGRAPH 2-8.5B(1) OF THE FTR STATES IN PERTINENT PART:

"IN CONNECTION WITH TRANSPORTATION WITHIN THE CONTERMINOUS UNITED STATES UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM, COSTS OF TEMPORARY STORAGE WITHIN THE APPLICABLE WEIGHT LIMIT WILL BE REIMBURSED TO THE EMPLOYEE IN THE AMOUNT OF HIS COSTS FOR STORAGE INCLUDING IN AND OUT CHARGES AND NECESSARY DRAYAGE, BUT NOT TO EXCEED THE COMMUTED RATES FOR STORAGE IN GSA BULLETIN FPMR A-2. ***"

THE COMMUTED RATE REFERRED TO INCLUDES THE ACTUAL STORAGE RATE AND THE COST OF TRANSPORTING MR. OAKLEY'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM RAPID CITY TO CUSTER, THE FINAL DESTINATION. SEE B-186351, MAY 10, 1977.

MR. OAKLEY SUGGESTS THAT THE CHARGES AS CALCULATED UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SCHEDULES ARE LOWER THAN THE MAXIMUM ALLOWED BY THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION. IN PARTICULAR CASES THIS IS TRUE SINCE THE SCHEDULES ARE BASED ON TARIFFS FILED WITH THE COMMISSION AND DO NOT REFLECT ANY SINGLE CARRIER'S TARIFF. THESE SCHEDULES ARE PREPARED BY GSA PURSUANT TO FTR PARA. 2-8.3A(1), WHICH PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING:

"UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM AN EMPLOYEE MAKES HIS OWN ARRANGEMENTS FOR TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS BETWEEN POINTS WITHIN THE CONTERMINOUS UNITED STATES. HE SELECTS AND PAYS THE CARRIER OR TRANSPORTS HIS GOODS BY NONCOMMERCIAL MEANS AND IS REIMBURSED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SCHEDULES OF COMMUTED RATES WHICH ARE CONTAINED IN GSA BULLETIN FPMR A-2, COMMUTED RATE SCHEDULE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

THE SCHEDULES OF COMMUTED RATES WHICH ARE DEVELOPED FROM TARIFFS THAT CARRIERS HAVE FILED WITH THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION CONSIST OF TABLES TO BE APPLIED TO THE PARTICULAR TRANSPORTATION INVOLVED. ***"

UNDER THIS SYSTEM, THE EMPLOYEE IS PAID AN ALLOWANCE BASED ON THE WEIGHT AND DISTANCE OF THE SHIPMENT RATHER THAN THE ACTUAL COST OF THE SHIPMENT. B-177743, FEBRUARY 2, 1973. THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM IS AN APPROXIMATION AND IS NOT DESIGNED TO REIMBURSE THE EMPLOYEE HIS EXACT EXPENSES. AS AN APPROXIMATION, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT ALL CONTINGENCIES WITH WHICH EVERY EMPLOYEE COULD BE CONFRONTED IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS. THE REIMBURSEMENT WILL AT TIMES BE LESS THAN THE ACTUAL COSTS, WHILE AT OTHER TIMES IT WILL BE MORE. B-186351, MAY 10, 1977; B-174642, MARCH 6, 1972.

MR. OAKLEY ALSO QUESTIONS THE USE OF THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM IN HIS SITUATION RATHER THAN USING THE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD. PARAGRAPH 2 8.3C(3) OF THE FTR SETS FORTH THE POLICY FOR THE USE OF THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHEN INDIVIDUAL TRANSFERS ARE INVOLVED AS FOLLOWS:

"THE GENERAL POLICY IS THAT COMMUTED RATES SHALL BE USED FOR TRANSPORTATION OF EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHEN INDIVIDUAL TRANSFERS ARE INVOLVED, AND THAT APPROPRIATE ACTION, DEPENDING ON THE AMOUNT OF GOODS TO BE TRANSPORTED, SHALL BE TAKEN TO ESTIMATE AND COMPARE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD COSTS WITH COMMUTED RATE COSTS WHEN GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES ARE TRANSFERRED BETWEEN THE SAME OFFICIAL STATIONS AT APPROXIMATELY THE SAME TIME SO THAT THE METHOD RESULTING IN LESS COST TO THE GOVERNMENT MAY BE USED. SPECIFIC PROCEDURES TO BE FOLLOWED ARE CONTAINED IN 2 8.3C(4)."

THE CRITERIA ESTABLISHED FOR THE USE OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD WHEN INDIVIDUAL TRANSFERS ARE INVOLVED IS AS FOLLOWS:

"AGENCY EXPERIENCE WITH THE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD HAS SHOWN THAT SHIPMENT BY GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING DOES NOT RESULT IN SAVINGS SIMPLY BECAUSE A LINE-HAUL DISCOUNT IS AVAILABLE. THEREFORE, THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE USED FOR INDIVIDUAL TRANSFERS WITHOUT CONSIDERATION BEING GIVEN THE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD, EXCEPT THAT THE ACTUAL EXPENSE METHOD MAY BE USED IF THE ACTUAL COSTS TO BE INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR PACKING AND OTHER ACCESSORIAL SERVICES ARE PREDETERMINED (AT LEAST AS TO PRICE PER 100 POUNDS) AND IF THAT METHOD IS EXPECTED TO RESULT IN A REAL SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF $100 OR MORE. ***"

FTR PARA. 2-8.3C(4)(A).

IN THIS CONNECTION WE HAVE HELD THAT ONCE AN ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION IS MADE AS TO THE METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT, IT BECOMES MANDATORY THAT THE EMPLOYEE BE REIMBURSED BY SUCH METHOD. B-174642, MARCH 6, 1972; B-185577, APRIL 28, 1976.

WE ARE UNABLE TO CONSIDER MR. OAKLEY'S CLAIM FROM AN EQUITABLE VIEWPOINT AS WE WILL NOT EXERCISE EQUITY JURISDICTION UNLESS IT HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY GRANTED BY STATUTE. 54 COMP.GEN. 527 (1974). THUS, WE CANNOT ALLOW CLAIMS FOR TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WHICH EXCEED THOSE REIMBURSED BY THE COMMUTED RATE METHOD. B-186975, MARCH 16, 1977.

ACCORDINGLY, MR. OAKLEY'S RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $493.52 MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. WE NOTE THAT MR. OAKLEY HAS BEEN REIMBURSED $944.88 FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS GOODS BASED ON A COMMUTED RATE OF $19.05 PER HUNDRED POUNDS. OUR REVIEW INDICATES THAT THE RATE OF $18.75 SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED. SEE TABLE 3, GSA BULLETIN FPMR A-2, SUPP. 61, ATTACHMENT A. HOWEVER, SINCE THE OVERPAYMENT IS ONLY $14.88, NO COLLECTION ACTION NEED BE TAKEN.