B-228630, Sep 6, 1988

B-228630: Sep 6, 1988

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If he was told that he was entitled to the expedited service for the lesser weight which would cost the equivalent of shipping 5. Wagner - Z-2880831 - B-228630 O.M.: Returned herewith is your file Z-2880831 involving the indebtedness in the amount of $1. Further development of the record is necessary and the matter may be resolved when the necessary information is received. Wagner was authorized transportation of his household goods between his home in Pittsburgh. 000 pounds was within the 18. 634.50 was reasonable. He was allowed only $671.95 for that weight under the commuted rate system. The Air Force recommends waiver because there was no indication of fraud. The administrative report points out that he was a new employee and his travel orders authorized a maximum weight of 18.

B-228630, Sep 6, 1988

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Shipment costs - Advance payments - Overpayments DIGEST: In transporting his household goods to his new duty station, the employee used as expedited service charging him for a minimum of 5,000 pounds of household goods, even though he only shipped 922 pounds. His indebtedness for the difference between the travel advance he received based on an estimated weight of 5,000 pounds and the charge at the commuted rate for 922 pounds may be waived under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584, if he was told that he was entitled to the expedited service for the lesser weight which would cost the equivalent of shipping 5,000 pounds.

Waived of Indebtedness of Gilbert J. Wagner - Z-2880831 - B-228630 O.M.:

Returned herewith is your file Z-2880831 involving the indebtedness in the amount of $1,128.05 to the United States of Gilbert J. Wagner, a civilian employee of the Air Force. The indebtedness arose as a result of a travel advance to him in connection with the transportation of his household goods. Further development of the record is necessary and the matter may be resolved when the necessary information is received.

As a newly hired manpower-shortage employee in January 1986, Mr. Wagner was authorized transportation of his household goods between his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Dayton, Ohio. The travel authorization specified the method of transportation to be the commuted rate system. That system bases reimbursement to the employee on the commercial tariff rate applied to the weight of household goods. However, Mr. Wagner decided to use an expedited service under which the shipper charged him for a minimum of 5,000 pounds, even though he actually shipped only 922 pounds, Mr. Wagner indicates that he had explained to the appropriate Air Force travel office that he needed the expedited service so that he could move into an apartment as soon as possible. The travel office told him that 5,000 pounds was within the 18,000 pounds maximum allowed at government expense and that the shipper's charge of $1,634.50 was reasonable. The travel office gave him an Sec. 1,800 travel advance to pay the shipper.

When the Air Force learned that he actually had shipped only 922 pounds, he was allowed only $671.95 for that weight under the commuted rate system. He therefore had an indebtedness of $1,128.05 representing the balance of the $1,800 travel advance he had received. The Air Force recommends waiver because there was no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, fault, or lack of good faith on the part of Mr. Wagner. The administrative report points out that he was a new employee and his travel orders authorized a maximum weight of 18,000 pounds.

Public Law 99-224, approved December 28, 1985, 99 Stat. 1741, amended 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584 to include in the Comptroller General's authority to waive a federal employee's liability for overpayments of pay or allowances, in certain circumstances, the authority to waive claims of the United States against employees arising out of erroneous payments of travel and transportation expenses.

We have held that in certain circumstances travel advances based on erroneous travel orders may be considered for waiver to the extent that an employee is indebted to the government for repayment of the amount advanced after the advance has been applied against legitimate expenses. Rajindar N. Khanna, B-225263, June 28, 1988.

Where an advance of funds is made in connection with the transportation of an employee's household goods, waiver consideration under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584 is appropriate only if there is error on the part of the government. Transportation Debt Waivers - Household Goods and Mobile Homes, B-229337, June 21, 1988.

In this case inconsistencies exist in the record as to what Mr. Wagner was told by government officials. If he was told that he was entitled to expedited service for a smaller shipment which would cost the equivalent of shipping 5,000 pounds, we believe waiver should be granted. If he merely was told that he was entitled to ship 5,000 pounds then waiver should be denied.

Accordingly, the agency should be asked to clarify this point and the matter should be resolved on the basis of the agency's response.

Attachment