B-204285, DEC 15, 1981

B-204285: Dec 15, 1981

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SINCE THESE REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT MET HERE AGENCY MAY ONLY AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEE. AGENCY'S REIMBURSEMENT OF EMPLOYEE BASED ON MILEAGE FORMULA IS IMPERMISSIBLE IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. TUTTLE WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE IN POST OF DUTY FROM PIKEVILLE. THIS ACTION WAS TAKEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RESTRICTED APPROVAL OF THE AGENCY OFFICIAL AUTHORIZING MR. ARE A FURTHER IMPLEMENTATION AND CONSISTENT WITH PART 2-8 OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7. TUTTLE'S - THE COST COMPARISON WILL RECOMMEND MOVEMENT BY EITHER THE ACTUAL EXPENSE (GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING (GBL)) OR COMMUTED RATE METHODS. EMPLOYEE SELF-MOVE REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE DETERMINED BY THE AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT THE MOVE IS TO BE COMPLETED AS ECONOMICALLY AS POSSIBLE.

B-204285, DEC 15, 1981

DIGEST: TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT AT COMMUTED RATE FOR TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO NEW DUTY STATION BY MAKING 9 SEPARATE TRIPS IN PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLES. FOR PURPOSES OF COMPUTING COMMUTED RATE, THE WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTED MUST BE DETERMINED EITHER BY THE ACTUAL SCALE WEIGHT OR BY THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF PROPERLY LOADED VAN SPACE OCCUPIED. SINCE THESE REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT MET HERE AGENCY MAY ONLY AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEE. AGENCY'S REIMBURSEMENT OF EMPLOYEE BASED ON MILEAGE FORMULA IS IMPERMISSIBLE IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.

WILLIAM R. TUTTLE - TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS:

V. G. LEIST, AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER WITH THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, CENTRAL REGION, HAS REQUESTED AN OPINION ON THE CLAIM OF MR. WILLIAM R. TUTTLE, FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS. PURSUANT TO THE FOLLOWING ANALYSIS WE DETERMINE THAT MR. TUTTLE MAY ONLY BE REIMBURSED FOR SUCH ITEMIZED EXPENSES HE ACTUALLY INCURRED IN MOVING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

BRIEFLY, MR. TUTTLE WAS AUTHORIZED A CHANGE IN POST OF DUTY FROM PIKEVILLE, KENTUCKY, TO PAINTSVILLE, KENTUCKY, EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 2, 1980. THE AGENCY REPORTS THAT MR. TUTTLE MOVED HIMSELF BY MAKING 2 TRIPS IN A CERTAIN PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE HAVING 41.5 CUBIC FEET OF STORAGE SPACE, AND 7 OTHER TRIPS IN A SECOND PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WHICH PROVIDED 76.37 CUBIC FEET OF STORAGE SPACE. MR. TUTTLE CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT AT THE COMMUTED RATE OF $747.70, BASED ON 4,322.5 POUNDS. THE AGENCY REDUCED MR. TUTTLE'S CLAIM TO $234.90 BASED ON A MILEAGE FORMULA USING 9 ROUND TRIPS OF 116 MILES, OR 1,044 MILES AT 22.5 CENTS PER MILE. THIS ACTION WAS TAKEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RESTRICTED APPROVAL OF THE AGENCY OFFICIAL AUTHORIZING MR. TUTTLE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTATION. THE AGENCY'S ACTIONS PROVED UNSATISFACTORY TO MR. TUTTLE WHO HAS REASSERTED HIS CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT AT THE FULL COMMUTED RATE.

THE CENTRAL REGION'S GUIDELINES ON HOUSEHOLD GOODS MOVING AND REIMBURSEMENT OPTIONS, MAY 15, 1980, ARE A FURTHER IMPLEMENTATION AND CONSISTENT WITH PART 2-8 OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7, MAY 1973), IN REQUIRING AGENCY OFFICIALS TO OBTAIN COST COMPARISIONS FOR ALL HOUSEHOLD GOODS MOVES. THE AGENCY'S POLICY PROVIDES THAT FOR INTRASTATE MOVES - SUCH AS MR. TUTTLE'S - THE COST COMPARISON WILL RECOMMEND MOVEMENT BY EITHER THE ACTUAL EXPENSE (GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING (GBL)) OR COMMUTED RATE METHODS. EMPLOYEE SELF-MOVE REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE DETERMINED BY THE AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT THE MOVE IS TO BE COMPLETED AS ECONOMICALLY AS POSSIBLE. THUS, THE GUIDELINES STATE THAT THE REIMBURSEMENT METHOD SHOULD BE THE MOST ECONOMICAL TO THE GOVERNMENT WITHOUT CAUSING AN INCONVENIENCE TO THE EMPLOYEE. IT IS NOT THE INTENT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PENALIZE AN EMPLOYEE FOR PERFORMING A SELF -MOVE NOR IS IT THE INTENT THAT AN EMPLOYEE BE REWARDED FOR PERFORMING A SELF-MOVE. UNDER THE GUIDELINES THE FOLLOWING REIMBURSEMENT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE BASED ON APPROPRIATE COST COMPARISONS:

"A. COST COMPARISON RECOMMENDS MOVING UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE:

1. REIMBURSEMENT BY COMMUTED RATE;

2. REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSE (TRUCK RENTAL, GASOLINE, PACKING MATERIAL, HIRED LABOR, ETC.) NOT TO EXCEED COMMUTED RATE.

"B. COST COMPARISON RECOMMENDS MOVING VIA GBL:

1. REIMBURSEMENT OF LOW COST AVAILABLE CARRIER RATE:

2. REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSE (SAME AS 2 ABOVE) NOT TO EXCEED LOW COST AVAILABLE CARRIER RATE."

THE RECORD BEFORE US PROVIDES SOME CONFUSION ATTENDING THE SELECTION OF MR. TUTTLE'S METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT. THE AUTHORIZATION FOR MOVING EXPENSES DATED DECEMBER 2, 1980, AUTHORIZES AN ESTIMATED 2,000 POUNDS TO BE MOVED BY GBL. HOWEVER, AS EVIDENCED BY A LETTER TO THE REGIONAL FISCAL MANAGEMENT OFFICER DATED DECEMBER 30, 1980, SINCE THERE WERE NO APPLICABLE LOW COST TENDERS ON FILE, MR. TUTTLE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS SHIPMENT WAS TO BE BY THE COMMUTED RATE METHOD. HOWEVER, MR. TUTTLE WAS ULTIMATELY REIMBURSED FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 22.5 CENTS PER MILE FOR 9 ROUND TRIPS TOTALLING 1,044 MILES, OR $234.90.

AT THE TIME MR. TUTTLE TRANSPORTED HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS PARAGRAPH 2 8.3A(3) OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENT FOR DOCUMENTATION RELATING TO SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS:

"(3) DOCUMENTATION. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY A RECEIPTED COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING (A REPRODUCED COPY MAY BE ACCEPTED) INCLUDING ANY ATTACHED WEIGHT CERTIFICATE COPIES IF SUCH A BILL WAS ISSUED. IF NO BILL OF LADING WAS INVOLVED, OTHER EVIDENCE SHOWING POINTS OF ORIGIN AND DESTINATION AND THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS MUST BE SUBMITTED. EMPLOYEES WHO TRANSPORT THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARE CAUTIONED TO ESTABLISH THE WEIGHT OF SUCH GOODS BY OBTAINING PROPER WEIGHT CERTIFICATES SHOWING GROSS WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE AND GOODS) AND TARE WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE ALONE) BECAUSE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR PAYMENT AT COMMUTED RATES ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT (2-8.2B(4)) USUALLY IS NOT POSSIBLE."

THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT SYSTEM DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH 2-8.2B(4) PROVIDES:

"(4) CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT. IF NO ADEQUATE SCALE IS AVAILABLE AT POINT OF ORIGIN, AT ANY POINT EN ROUTE, OR AT DESTINATION, A CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT, BASED ON 7 POUNDS PER CUBIC FOOT OF PROPERLY LOADED VAN SPACE, MAY BE USED. SUCH CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT ALSO MAY BE USED FOR A PART-LOAD WHEN ITS WEIGHT COULD NOT BE OBTAINED AT ORIGIN, EN ROUTE, OR AT DESTINATION, WITHOUT FIRST UNLOADING IT OR OTHER PART-LOADS BEING CARRIED IN THE SAME VEHICLE, OR WHEN THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARE NOT WEIGHED BECAUSE THE CARRIER'S CHARGES FOR A LOCAL OR METROPOLITAN AREA MOVE ARE PROPERLY COMPUTED ON A BASIS OTHER THAN THE WEIGHT OR VOLUME OF THE SHIPMENT (AS WHEN PAYMENT IS BASED ON AN HOURLY RATE AND THE DISTANCE INVOLVED). HOWEVER, IN SUCH INSTANCES THE EMPLOYEE SHOULD OBTAIN A STATEMENT FROM THE CARRIER SHOWING THE AMOUNT OF PROPERLY LOADED VAN SPACE REQUIRED FOR THE SHIPMENT. (SEE ALSO 2-8.3A(3) WITH RESPECT TO PROOF OF ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED RATE PAYMENT WHEN NET WEIGHT CANNOT BE SHOWN.)"

FOR PURPOSES OF PARAGRAPH 2-8.3A(3), WE HAVE HELD THAT AS A MINIMUM TO BE A PROPER WEIGHT CERTIFICATE WITHIN THE REGULATION THERE MUST BE A CERTIFICATE OBTAINED FROM A CERTIFIED WEIGHMASTER OR A CERTIFICATE FROM A CERTIFIED SCALE IDENTIFYING THE VEHICLE AND SHOWING ITS GROSS WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE AND GOODS) AND TARE WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE ALONE). CHALLIS BROUGHTON, B-193133, APRIL 24, 1979, AFFIRMED, AUGUST 13, 1979. THE DOCUMENTATION IN MR. TUTTLE'S CASE DOES NOT DO THAT AND ACCORDINGLY DOES NOT SUPPORT PAYMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED-RATE SYSTEM BASED UPON A SHOWING OF THE SCALE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED.

MOREOVER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT SYSTEM DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH 2-8.2B(4), AND AS WE INDICATED IN THE BROUGHTON CASE, WHERE AN EMPLOYEE HAS FAILED TO OBTAIN THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE TIME OF TRANSPORTATION, HE MAY BE PAID AT THE COMMUTED RATE ONLY IF HE IS ABLE TO SHOW THE AMOUNT OF SPACE OCCUPIED BY THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND THAT THE GOODS WERE PROPERLY LOADED IN THE SPACE AVAILABLE. ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF SPACE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED BY HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS IF PROPERLY LOADED, AN EMPLOYEE MAY SUBMIT A LIST OF ITEMS TRANSPORTED TOGETHER WITH THE VOLUME OCCUPIED BY EACH BASED ON ACTUAL MEASUREMENT OR A UNIFORM TABLE, PREFERABLY PREPARED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER. SEE KALMAN PATER, JR., B-200377, DECEMBER 31, 1980, 60 COMP.GEN. , CITING 48 COMP.GEN. 115 (1968); AND SEE ALSO PHILLIP ROGERS, B-199803, MARCH 25, 1981. IN MR. TUTTLE'S CASE NO INFORMATION HAS BEEN PRESENTED WHICH COULD BE USED TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF THE COMMUTED RATE BASED UPON THE CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT.

WHERE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A CLAIM FOR SHIPPING HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE CUBIC FEET OF PROPERLY LOADED VAN SPACE, THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT AT THE COMMUTED RATE BUT MAY BE REIMBURSED ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED IF EVIDENCE SUBMITTED REASONABLY SUPPORTS THE SHIPMENT OF THE CLAIMED WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS. PATSY R. NEWTON, B-198398, OCTOBER 17, 1980. THUS, IF THE EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO ESTABLISH ENTITLEMENT TO PAYMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM BY SUBMITTING EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED, SUCH AS FOR GAS, OIL, TOLLS, ETC., IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS. REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES MAY NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE TO HIM BASED ON THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATE. SEE 48 COMP.GEN. 115 (1968), CITED ABOVE.

ACCORDINGLY, WHILE WE WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. TUTTLE IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS, NO SUCH ITEMIZATION APPEARS IN THE RECORD BEFORE US. CLEARLY, REIMBURSEMENT AT A FIXED RATE BASED ON ACCUMULATED MILEAGE OVER MULTIPLE TRIPS IS NEITHER CONTEMPLATED BY THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS NOR COMPATIBLE WITH THE AGENCY GUIDELINES' PROVISION FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED. WHERE THE AGENCY GUIDELINES PROVIDE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF GAS, OIL, TOLLS, AND OTHER EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED AND INDIVIDUALLY ITEMIZED, THE AGENCY'S ADOPTION OF AN AUXILIARY REIMBURSEMENT FORMULA IS ARBITRARY AND IMPERMISSIBLE IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. SEE 48 COMP.GEN. 115, SUPRA.

THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT ACTUAL EXPENSES MAY BE SHOWN BY THE CLAIMANT. AMOUNTS IMPERMISSIBLY REIMBURSED TO MR. TUTTLE MUST BE RECOVERED.