B-196560.OM, JUL 21, 1980

B-196560.OM: Jul 21, 1980

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FGMSD (ROOM 5858): RETURNED HEREWITH IS FILE Z-2811314 INVOLVING THE CLAIM OF EUGENE F. HULL WHICH WAS FORWARDED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION ON OCTOBER 22. IS WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE ON TEMPORARY DUTY MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR RENT PAID ON A CANCELLED LEASE BECAUSE HE WAS ORDERED TO RETURN FROM TEMPORARY DUTY EARLIER THAN WAS SCHEDULED. 1980) THE ANSWER IS YES. WAS ISSUED TRAVEL ORDERS FOR TRAVEL FROM ARLINGTON TO ROANOKE. THE PURPOSE OF THE ASSIGNMENT WAS TO ASSIST ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES IN WRITING DECISIONS. PER DIEM WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THE FIRST 30 DAYS AT $35 LODGINGS-PLUS BASIS. PARKING ACCOMMODATIONS WERE NOT PROVIDED AND A STORAGE SPACE WAS RENTED FOR $15 FOR THE MONTH. HULL WAS SUBSEQUENTLY NOTIFIED THAT HIS ASSIGNMENT WOULD TERMINATE ON JULY 28.

B-196560.OM, JUL 21, 1980

SUBJECT: APPEAL OF EUGENE F. HULL - B-196560-O.M.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CLAIMS GROUP, FGMSD (ROOM 5858):

RETURNED HEREWITH IS FILE Z-2811314 INVOLVING THE CLAIM OF EUGENE F. HULL WHICH WAS FORWARDED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION ON OCTOBER 22, 1979. THE ISSUE PRESENTED ON APPEAL FROM THE SETTLEMENT DATED OCTOBER 1, 1979, IS WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE ON TEMPORARY DUTY MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR RENT PAID ON A CANCELLED LEASE BECAUSE HE WAS ORDERED TO RETURN FROM TEMPORARY DUTY EARLIER THAN WAS SCHEDULED. IN VIEW OF THE DECISION IN MATTER OF SNODGRASS AND VANRONK, 59 COMP.GEN. (B-195352, JULY 17, 1980) THE ANSWER IS YES.

MR. EUGENE F. HULL, HEARING AND APPEALS ANALYST, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA), WAS ISSUED TRAVEL ORDERS FOR TRAVEL FROM ARLINGTON TO ROANOKE, VIRGINIA, FOR THE APPROXIMATE PERIOD FROM JULY 10 THROUGH AUGUST 8, 1978. THE PURPOSE OF THE ASSIGNMENT WAS TO ASSIST ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES IN WRITING DECISIONS. PER DIEM WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THE FIRST 30 DAYS AT $35 LODGINGS-PLUS BASIS.

BECAUSE OF THE LENGTH OF THE ASSIGNMENT, MR. HULL ENTERED INTO A LEASE AGREEMENT WITH THE PATRICK HENRY APARTMENT HOTEL IN ROANOKE FOR THE PERIOD FROM JULY 9 THROUGH AUGUST 11, 1978, PAYING $462. PARKING ACCOMMODATIONS WERE NOT PROVIDED AND A STORAGE SPACE WAS RENTED FOR $15 FOR THE MONTH. MR. HULL WAS SUBSEQUENTLY NOTIFIED THAT HIS ASSIGNMENT WOULD TERMINATE ON JULY 28. DUE TO PROVISIONS OF THE LEASE, THERE WAS NO REFUND FOR THE UNUSED PORTION OF THE LEASE, NOR DID THE PARKING GARAGE ISSUE A REFUND.

O AUGUST 8, 1978, A TRAVEL VOUCHER WAS SUBMITTED IN THE AMOUNT OF $882.50 WHICH INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING EXPENSES:

PER DIEM - 19 1/2 DAYS AT $35.00 $682.50 UNEXPIRED PORTION OF LEASE 91.50 PARKING SPACE 15.00

REIMBURSEMENT WAS APPROVED FOR PER DIEM AS CLAIMED BASED ON THE REQUIREMENTS OF COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECISION B-188924, JUNE 15, 1977, WHICH ALLOWS FOR PRORATING THE RENTAL COST OVER THE NIGHTS OF ACTUAL OCCUPANCY. BY INCLUDING THE PARKING FEE WITH THE TOTAL RENT PAID THE SSA ARRIVED AT $477 TOTAL LODGING COSTS FOR THE VOUCHER PERIOD. DIVIDED BY 19 NIGHTS OF ACTUAL OCCUPANCY, A LODGINGS-PLUS RATE OF $42 WAS ESTABLISHED, $25 LODGING AND $16 FOOD AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES. THIIS RATE WAS REDUCED TO THE AUTHORIZED MAXIMUM PER DIEM OF $35 AND THE EMPLOYEE WAS NOTIFIED BY MEMORANDUM DATED SEPTEMBER 13, 1978. MR. HULL SUBMITTED A RECLAIM VOUCHER DATED SEPTEMBER 21, 1978, IN THE AMOUNT OF $106.50 MORE THAN THE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM FOR THE UNEXPIRED PORTION OF THE LEASE AND THE GARAGE PARKING FEES.

SINCE HIS ASSIGNMENT WAS TERMINATED PREMATURELY BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION, MR. HULL CONTENDS THAT HE SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED. IN SSA'S OPINION, MR. HULL RELIED ON HIS TRAVEL ORDER AND ACTED PRUDENTLY IN RENTING BY THE MONTH, SINCE THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS OVER THE DAILY RATE.

IN THE SIMILAR CASE OF SNODGRASS AND VANRONK, B-195352, DECIDED TODAY WE HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE, WHO HAS ACTED REASONABLY IN LEASING LODGING FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY AND WHO CANNOT OBTAIN A FULL REFUND OF COSTS WHEN HE IS REQUIRED TO LEAVE THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION EARLY AND PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE LEASE DUE TO A CANCELLATION OF HIS ORDERS, MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COSTS INCURRED.

FOLLOWING THAT DECISION MR. HULL MAY BE REIMBURSED THE COST OF THE UNEXPIRED LEASE. THE COMPUTATION FURNISHED IS PREDICATED ON PAYMENT OF MAXIMUM PER DIEM DURING THE TEMPORARY DUTY ACTUALLY PERFORMED. THE EXCESS CLAIMED IS APPROPRIATELY CALCULATED AS REPRESENTING THE UNREIMBURSED COSTS REMAINING AFTER PER DIEM HAS BEEN PAID ON THAT BASIS. ACCORDINGLY, THE CLAIM MAY BE ALLOWED.