B-231691, Feb 17, 1989

B-231691: Feb 17, 1989

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The daughter's transportation and related expenses may not be paid since she was married at the time she traveled and. In the absence of valid weight certificates or evidence that the carrier's binding estimate was based on 7 pounds per cubic foot the commuted rate cannot be based on a carrier's binding weight estimate. The proper basis for reimbursement is the employee's actual expenses. Warren - Relocation Expenses - Dependent and Household Goods Transportation: This decision responds to a request from a certifying officer concerning the payment of an employee's claim for certain additional relocation expenses. /1/ We conclude that the transportation and related expenses of the employee's daughter may not be paid and the employee's reimbursement for shipment of her household goods was properly limited to the actual expenses she incurred.

B-231691, Feb 17, 1989

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Relocation travel - Dependents - Eligibility DIGEST: 1. About 2 weeks after an employee reported to her new permanent duty station her minor daughter married, and 8 months after the marriage the daughter relocated to the employee's new home as the result of a separation from her husband. The daughter's transportation and related expenses may not be paid since she was married at the time she traveled and, therefore, no longer qualified as a member of the employee's immediate family for transportation allowance purposes. CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Commuted rates - Reimbursement - Amount determination CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Commuted rates - Weight certification - Evidence sufficiency 2. An employee whose travel order authorized the transportation of her household goods on the commuted rate basis engaged a carrier who agreed to perform the service based on a binding estimated weight of 8,000 pounds. In the absence of valid weight certificates or evidence that the carrier's binding estimate was based on 7 pounds per cubic foot the commuted rate cannot be based on a carrier's binding weight estimate. The proper basis for reimbursement is the employee's actual expenses.

Janice D. Warren - Relocation Expenses - Dependent and Household Goods Transportation:

This decision responds to a request from a certifying officer concerning the payment of an employee's claim for certain additional relocation expenses. /1/ We conclude that the transportation and related expenses of the employee's daughter may not be paid and the employee's reimbursement for shipment of her household goods was properly limited to the actual expenses she incurred.

BACKGROUND

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) transferred Janice L. Warren in April 1987. At that time her minor daughter, who was unmarried and attending college, did not accompany her mother to the new duty station. In April her daughter married, but in December her daughter relocated to the employee's new home as the result of a separation from her husband. Mrs. Warren has claimed reimbursement for her daughter's travel expenses and an additional miscellaneous expense allowance for her daughter. The agency questioned allowance of these claims since the daughter was legally married and, thus, would not appear to qualify as a member of the employee's household for the purpose of these expenses.

Concerning the issue of the proper reimbursement basis for shipment of Mrs. Warren's household goods, her travel order authorized transportation of household goods at the commuted rate. The employee arranged for the transportation with a carrier which agreed to perform the services on the basis of a binding estimated weight of 8,000 pounds. Unable to produce a valid weight certificate, Mrs. Warren is claiming reimbursement at the commuted rate based on the estimated 8,000 pounds. The agency limited reimbursement to actual expenses of transportation and storage which are supported by invoices showing what the employee paid to moving and storage companies.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

Allowances for Employee's Daughter

Under 5 U.S.C. Secs. 5724(a) and 5724(b), a transferred employee is entitled to travel allowances and an additional amount of miscellaneous expense allowance for his or her immediate family. Immediate family includes a child who is "unmarried and under 21 years of age." Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), para. 2-1.4d(1)(b) (Supp. 4, Aug. 23, 1982), incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101-7.003.

Here, the minor child was married when she moved, although the child was separated from her husband who, the employee indicated, had commenced divorce proceedings. These facts are similar to those in our decisions, Richard D. Bruce, B-191441, May 11, 1978, and June 6, 1980, which held that an employee is not entitled to reimbursement for the transportation of a minor daughter if the daughter was married at the time she traveled to the employee's new duty station since she then is not a member of the employee's immediate family as defined in the FTR.

While in the later Bruce decision it was held that the employee could receive allowances for his child, that was because the marriage had been annulled, which voided the marriage retroactively as well as prospectively. Here, no annulment occurred, and the separation and divorce proceedings did not affect the status of the child as being legally married during the period in question. Therefore, Mrs. Warren is not entitled to reimbursement for her daughter's transportation expenses or additional miscellaneous expense allowance on the basis of her daughter.

Household Goods Expenses

An employee who claims the commuted rate for reimbursement relating to the transportation of household goods, in addition to orders authorizing the commuted rate basis, must satisfy evidentiary weight requirements established in FTR, paras. 2-8.2b(4) and 2-8.3a(3). They require either valid weight certificates showing actual weight or, if no adequate scale is available at point of origin, en route, or at destination, constructive weight based on 7 pounds per cubic foot of properly loaded van space. this case there is no evidence that adequate scales were not available or that the carrier's 8,000 pound estimate was derived from application of the prescribed regulatory formula. The fact that under ICC regulations the carrier could assess transportation charges based on estimated weight does not govern an employee's entitlement to commuted rate reimbursement under the FTR. Since the employee here has not satisfied the evidentiary requirements of the regulations, reimbursement on the commuted rate basis is not authorized. 48 Comp.Gen. 115, supra.

As the agency points out, where an employee is unable to establish reimbursement on the commuted rate basis the proper basis for reimbursement is the actual expense basis. Jerrold Schroeder, B-226868, Nov. 4, 1988. Here, the employee engaged moving companies to transport, store and deliver her household goods. The actual expenses for those services were less than costs on the commuted rate basis would have been based on the carrier's estimate of 8,000 pounds. Therefore, the agency properly limited reimbursement to the actual expenses. See 48 Comp.Gen. 115, supra, and Robert D. Maxwell, B-207500, Oct. 20, 1982.

The record does not support reimbursement of any additional amounts.

/1/ The request was made by the Director, Office of Finance and Accounting, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.