B-226868.2, May 19, 1989

B-226868.2: May 19, 1989

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In the light of further evidence which was subsequently found to be erroneous. We affirm our prior decision that the employee's reimbursement is limited to his actual costs. Which are fully explained in our prior decision. Are. Was transferred from Omaha. Schroeder was reimbursed only his actual costs of $3. 395 which is the difference between the actual cost and the commuted rate method. Schroeder contends that since the commuted rate method was authorized by the IRS. Legal rights and liabilities with regard to travel expenses vest under the statutes and regulations when the travel is performed. Exceptions to this rule have been recognized in cases involving errors which are apparent on the face of the original orders.

B-226868.2, May 19, 1989

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Commuted rates - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: The Internal Revenue Service initially authorized reimbursement for an employee's shipment of household goods under the GBL method, and then, in the light of further evidence which was subsequently found to be erroneous, authorized reimbursement under the higher commuted rate method. Upon reconsideration, we affirm our prior decision that the employee's reimbursement is limited to his actual costs.

Jerrold Schroeder - Reconsideration of Claim for Transportation of Household Goods:

In this decision we reconsider our decision in Jerrold Schroeder, B-226868, Nov. 4, 1988, in which we limited the amount an employee may be reimbursed for shipment of his household goods under the commuted rate method to his actual costs. For the reasons set forth below, we sustain our prior decision.

BACKGROUND

The facts, which are fully explained in our prior decision, are, briefly stated, that Mr. Jerrold Schroeder, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), was transferred from Omaha, Nebraska, to Toledo, Ohio. The IRS initially authorized reimbursement for his shipment of household goods under the GBL method but subsequently authorized reimbursement under the higher commuted rate method. /1/ Mr. Schroeder was reimbursed only his actual costs of $3,300, and he submitted a reclaim voucher for $4,395 which is the difference between the actual cost and the commuted rate method.

In his request for reconsideration, Mr. Schroeder contends that since the commuted rate method was authorized by the IRS, albeit on the basis of erroneous information, his travel orders may not be retroactively modified so as to affect his vested rights. He also contends that our prior decision, Jerrold Schroeder, B-226868, Nov. 4, 1988, misinterpreted previous Comptroller General decisions.

OPINION

In our prior decision, B-226868, supra, we noted that as a general rule, legal rights and liabilities with regard to travel expenses vest under the statutes and regulations when the travel is performed. However, exceptions to this rule have been recognized in cases involving errors which are apparent on the face of the original orders, or where all the facts and circumstances surrounding the issuance of the original travel orders clearly demonstrate that some provision which was previously determined and definitely intended had been inadvertently omitted in their preparation. See e.g., Sergeant Paul D. Wilson, USMC, 65 Comp.Gen. 884 (1986) (military members); Dr. Sigmund Fritz, 55 Comp.Gen. 1241 (1976) (civilian employees).

In his request for reconsideration, Mr. Schroeder contends that this general rule is applicable to his case. However, in Mr. Schroeder's case the estimate furnished to him was clearly erroneous because, as explained in detail in our prior decision, it failed to take into account additional packing and accessorial charges of $2,582.40. Thus, we concluded that the IRS committed an administrative error when it agreed to a change in Mr. Schroeder's travel orders from the GBL method to the commuted rate. Under those circumstances, we found no basis to allow the employee a windfall from the government's error. As noted above, there are exceptions to the rule that travel orders may not be retroactively modified so as to affect an employee's vested rights, and thus the general rule is not applicable in Mr. Schroeder's case.

Mr. Schroeder's request for reconsideration also argues that our decision in B-226868, supra, has misinterpreted previous Comptroller General decisions. After our review of our decision in light of his request, we conclude that the initial decision in this matter thoroughly and accurately interpreted the prior relevant Comptroller General decisions which were cited in it.

A request for reconsideration which does not show a material legal or factual error does not provide a basis for reversal or modification of our prior decision. Furthermore, mere disagreement with our Office's interpretation of its previous decisions does not constitute a basis for reconsideration.

Accordingly, upon reconsideration we affirm our decision in Jerrold Schroeder, B-226868, supra.

/1/ Under the commuted rate system an employee makes his own arrangements for transporting household goods between points within the conterminous United States, and the employee is reimbursed in accordance with schedules of commuted rates which are contained in General Services Administration (GSA) Bulletin FPMR A-2. Para. 2 8.3a(1) of the Federal Travel Regulations (Supp. 1, Nov. 1, 1981), incorp. by ref. 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101- 7.003 (1985). Under the GBL method, the government assumes responsibility for awarding contracts and for other negotiations with carriers.