Claim for Travel Expenses

B-205640: Jun 18, 1982

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An Army employee appealed a Claims Division settlement which denied his claim for travel expenses during a purported 9-month temporary duty assignment. The record showed that, in August 1971, the employee was reassigned from the U.S. Army Electronics Command (ECOM) in Pennsylvania to a post in Vietnam. In October of 1972, the employee was reassigned from Vietnam to the ECOM Headquarters Office in New Jersey. In September 1973, he was reassigned from New Jersey to Bangkok, Thailand, with reemployment rights under Federal regulations. However, the record shows that the New Jersey office amended the employee's personnel form to designate the Pennsylvania post as his duty station, and issued a temporary duty travel order to cover the period while his reassignment forms were completed. The amendment was apparently extended as a matter of personal convenience to the employee. Upon appeal, the employee contended that the extended temporary duty was not granted as a personal convenience to him, but that it was a statutory requirement governed by law. Essentially he claimed that the Army was obligated to reassign him to Pennsylvania upon completion of his assignment to Thailand and that the Army could only obtain his services in New Jersey on a temporary duty assignment for which it was obligated to pay travel expenses. GAO stated that it was unfortunate that the employee's rights may have been overlooked at the time of his return from Vietnam, since at that time he may have been entitled to reassignment in Pennsylvania. However, since he served a tour of duty in New Jersey and was later transferred to Thailand, his rights on return from that assignment were to New Jersey. GAO concluded that the travel order as originally issued was proper and the attempt to modify it was without effect since his permanent duty station upon return from Thailand was in fact in New Jersey. Accordingly, the prior settlement was sustained.