B-229403, Aug 8, 1988

B-229403: Aug 8, 1988

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Noting that reimbursement of such expenses is allowable only where residence at the old duty station has been vacated. Carter - Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses: An employee claims that she is entitled to receive temporary quarters subsistence expenses for the period that her daughter continued to occupy the family residence at the old duty station after the employee had vacated the quarters. /1/ The agency disallowed the claim. Was transferred from San Antonio. Suggests that she should be reimbursed these expenses because it was in the best interest of her daughter to delay her relocation. DISCUSSION Employees who are transferred may be authorized reimbursement for the extra expenses they incur if they need to stay in temporary quarters.

B-229403, Aug 8, 1988

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Temporary quarters - Actual subsistence expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility DIGEST: A transferred employee claimed temporary quarters subsistence expenses for her daughter who stayed in the employee's former residence at the old duty station in order to complete a school grading period. The agency disallowed the claim, noting that reimbursement of such expenses is allowable only where residence at the old duty station has been vacated. We concur since absent unforeseeable circumstances, an employee may not be paid temporary quarters subsistence expenses for a family member who remains in the old duty station residence.

Loretta M. Carter - Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses:

An employee claims that she is entitled to receive temporary quarters subsistence expenses for the period that her daughter continued to occupy the family residence at the old duty station after the employee had vacated the quarters. /1/ The agency disallowed the claim, and for the reasons to follow, we affirm the agency's action.

FACTS

Ms. Loretta M. Carter, an employee of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, was transferred from San Antonio, Texas, to Houston, Texas. Following her acceptance of the position in Houston, Ms. Carter notified the property manager of her intent to vacate her apartment. Subsequently, in September 1987, she did vacate, but her daughter, who has muscular dystrophy, remained in Ms. Carter's former residence in San Antonio until she completed the first grading term of the school year.

According to the agency report, the employee's daughter continued to reside in the former residence for the first 30-day period for which the employee claimed TQSE for her.

Based on these facts, the agency determined that the daughter had not vacated the old residence as required by the applicable travel regulations and denied that portion of Ms. Carter's claim for temporary quarters subsistence expenses (TQSE) related to her daughter's expenses. Ms. Carter, however, suggests that she should be reimbursed these expenses because it was in the best interest of her daughter to delay her relocation. We affirm the agency's decision.

DISCUSSION

Employees who are transferred may be authorized reimbursement for the extra expenses they incur if they need to stay in temporary quarters. The authority to pay these expenses is found in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a)(3); regulations promulgated pursuant to this authority are contained in chapter 2, part 5 of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). "Temporary quarters" is defined in FTR, para. 2-5.2(c) as "Lodging obtained from private or commercial sources for the purpose of temporary occupancy after vacating the residence occupied when the transfer was authorized."

While the travel regulations do not define the term "vacate," we have held that generally a residence is deemed vacated when an employee and her family cease to occupy the residence for the purpose intended. E.g., John O. Randall, B-206169, June 16, 1982. Consistent with this rule, we have held that a residence is not vacated where the employee has moved to a new duty station while the family remained in the residence intending to join the employee at a later date. Michael J. Johnson, B-215708, Oct. 11, 1984. Thus, in a case similar to the present one, we disallowed the claim of an employee who had sold his old residence but had arranged for his family to continue to occupy the residence on a rental basis so that his children could finish the school year at their old station. James P. Driscoll, B-198920, Nov. 28, 1980.

Generally, we have authorized TQSE for family members who do not vacate the residence at the old duty station only in situations where unforeseen events precluded the family members from vacating the residence; that is, the family members had prepared to vacate but could not due to factors beyond their control. See, e.g., Quinea D. Minton, B-218886, Mar. 24, 1986.

In the present case, there is no evidence that the employee ever intended for her daughter to vacate the residence until the end of the first marking period. Therefore, since the child remained in the former residence by design and not because of unforeseen circumstances, such as an unexpected worsening of her medical condition, she had not vacated the old residence within the meaning of FTR 2-5.2(c).

Accordingly, we affirm the agency's denial of this claim.

/1/ Mr. Donald Demitros, Acting Director of the Office of Finance and Accounting, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, requested our decision on this matter.