B-214244, MAY 22, 1984

B-214244: May 22, 1984

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THE CLAIM FOR RELOCATION EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT IS ALLOWED. THAT REQUIREMENT IS NOT ABSOLUTE WHERE THE FACTS SHOW THAT THE EMPLOYEE DID IN FACT PERFORM THE MINIMUM REQUIRED SERVICE FOLLOWING THE TRANSFER. VILLARREAL - REIMBURSEMENT OF RELOCATION EXPENSES - SERVICE AGREEMENT: THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR DECISION FROM THE DIRECTOR. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER ITS EMPLOYEE. VILLARREAL WAS TRANSFERRED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM HIS POSITION AS AREA DIRECTOR IN THE EEOC KANSAS CITY AREA OFFICE TO A POSITION AS A COMPLIANCE MANAGER IN THE EEOC ST. AN AGENCY IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND OTHER RELOCATION ALLOWANCES WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM ONE PERMANENT DUTY STATION TO ANOTHER FOR PERMANENT DUTY WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES ONLY AFTER THE EMPLOYEE AGREES IN WRITING TO REMAIN IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE FOR 12 MONTHS AFTER HIS TRANSFER.

B-214244, MAY 22, 1984

DIGEST: AN EMPLOYEE RECEIVED A PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION TRANSFER IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT. HE COMPLETED THE TRANSFER, BUT DUE TO A DISPUTE REGARDING THE NATURE OF THE TRANSFER, REFUSED TO EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT. THE AGENCY THEREAFTER REFUSED TO ISSUE HIM A TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AND WOULD NOT APPROVE PAYMENT OF THE RELOCATION EXPENSES HE INCURRED. THE EMPLOYEE REMAINED WITH THE AGENCY AT THE NEW DUTY STATION FOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS FOLLOWING THE TRANSFER. THE CLAIM FOR RELOCATION EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT IS ALLOWED. WHILE 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5724(I) REQUIRES THE EXECUTION OF A 12-MONTH SERVICE AGREEMENT AT THE TIME OF A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, THAT REQUIREMENT IS NOT ABSOLUTE WHERE THE FACTS SHOW THAT THE EMPLOYEE DID IN FACT PERFORM THE MINIMUM REQUIRED SERVICE FOLLOWING THE TRANSFER. CATHRYN P. WHITE, B-195180, OCTOBER 24, 1979.

BALTAZAR A. VILLARREAL - REIMBURSEMENT OF RELOCATION EXPENSES - SERVICE AGREEMENT:

THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR DECISION FROM THE DIRECTOR, BUDGET AND FINANCE DIVISION, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC). THE QUESTION IS WHETHER ITS EMPLOYEE, MR. BALTAZAR A. VILLARREAL, MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR RELOCATION EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION TRANSFER IN NOVEMBER 1980, EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOT EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT.

MR. VILLARREAL WAS TRANSFERRED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM HIS POSITION AS AREA DIRECTOR IN THE EEOC KANSAS CITY AREA OFFICE TO A POSITION AS A COMPLIANCE MANAGER IN THE EEOC ST. LOUIS DISTRICT OFFICE. HE REPORTED FOR DUTY AT THE ST. LOUIS DISTRICT OFFICE ON NOVEMBER 3, 1980.

MR. VILLARREAL REFUSED TO EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT AT THE TIME OF THE TRANSFER BECAUSE OF A DISPUTE REGARDING THE NATURE OF THE TRANSFER, I.E., VOLUNTARY VERSUS INVOLUNTARY. THE AGENCY, IN TURN, DID NOT ISSUE HIM A TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AND HAS NOT APPROVED PAYMENT OF ANY OF THE RELOCATION EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM INCIDENT TO THAT MOVE. NOTWITHSTANDING THAT DISPUTE, WE UNDERSTAND THAT HE REMAINED EMPLOYED BY THE AGENCY AND WORKED IN THE ST. LOUIS DISTRICT OFFICE FROM NOVEMBER 3, 1980, UNTIL HE RETIRED ON FEBRUARY 4, 1984.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5724(I), AN AGENCY IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND OTHER RELOCATION ALLOWANCES WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM ONE PERMANENT DUTY STATION TO ANOTHER FOR PERMANENT DUTY WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES ONLY AFTER THE EMPLOYEE AGREES IN WRITING TO REMAIN IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE FOR 12 MONTHS AFTER HIS TRANSFER, UNLESS SEPARATED FOR REASONS BEYOND HIS CONTROL. THIS REQUIREMENT OF 12 MONTHS SERVICE FOLLOWING A TRANSFER IS PART OF THE CONSIDERATION RECEIVED BY THE GOVERNMENT WHEN IT AGREES TO REIMBURSE RELOCATION EXPENSES. IF THERE IS NO REIMBURSEMENT OF RELOCATION EXPENSES, THEN THERE IS NO SERVICE REQUIREMENT.

EMPLOYEES BEING TRANSFERRED AND SEEKING REIMBURSEMENT OF RELOCATION EXPENSES ARE SUPPOSED TO EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT BEFORE, OR AT THE TIME THE TRANSFER IS AUTHORIZED. IN THIS WAY, THE TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE IS MADE AWARE OF HIS RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE LAW. HOWEVER, HIS FAILURE TO EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT DOES NOT RELIEVE HIM OF THE OBLIGATION TO REMAIN IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE FOR A MINIMUM OF 12 MONTHS FOLLOWING TRANSFER, OR OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO REPAY ANY RELOCATION EXPENSES REIMBURSED TO HIM SHOULD HE FAIL TO SATISFY THE MINIMUM SERVICE REQUIREMENT. B-178595, JUNE 27, 1973; AND ORVILLE H. MYERS, ET AL., 57 COMP.GEN. 447 (1978).

CONVERSELY, WHERE A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE FAILS TO EXECUTE A SERVICE AGREEMENT, THROUGH INADVERTENCE OR OTHERWISE, BUT DOES PERFORM THE MINIMUM REQUIRED GOVERNMENT SERVICE AFTER REPORTING FOR DUTY AT HIS NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATION, THE SERVICE AGREEMENT NEED NOT BE EXECUTED IN ORDER FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR RELOCATION EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THAT TRANSFER. CATHRYN P. WHITE, B-195180, OCTOBER 24, 1979.

IN THE PRESENT SITUATION, MR. VILLARREAL, IN SPITE OF HIS REFUSAL TO EXECUTE THE SERVICE AGREEMENT, REMAINED EMPLOYED WITH THE ST. LOUIS DISTRICT OFFICE OF THE EEOC CONTINUOUSLY FOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS FOLLOWING HIS TRANSFER. THEREFORE, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE RELOCATION EXPENSES INCURRED, TO THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED BY THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND OUR DECISIONS.