B-231717, Jan 10, 1990

B-231717: Jan 10, 1990

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Civilian Personnel - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Reimbursement - Eligibility Civilian Personnel - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility - Government advantage DIGEST: An employee of the Navy who was authorized the movement of his household goods to his new duty station and travel by sailboat as advantageous to the government may be reimbursed the actual expenses of operating the sailboat. In which the household goods were carried. Puustinen's reimbursement to actual expenses was correct. Puustinen based on the commuted-rate system for the movement of household goods was clearly erroneous since use of that system is restricted to transfers that occur between points inside the continental United States.

B-231717, Jan 10, 1990

Civilian Personnel - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Reimbursement - Eligibility Civilian Personnel - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility - Government advantage DIGEST: An employee of the Navy who was authorized the movement of his household goods to his new duty station and travel by sailboat as advantageous to the government may be reimbursed the actual expenses of operating the sailboat, in which the household goods were carried, as well as paid a per diem allowance.

Paul J. Puustinen:

Mr. Paul J. Puustinen appeals the determination by our Claims Group that he may be reimbursed only his actual expenses for sailing his boat, which he used as his home and which contained his household goods, to his new duty station in Canada. Mr. Puustinen's travel orders provided for travel by private boat as advantageous to the government, but they precluded shipment of a private automobile at government expense. He contends that, instead of actual expenses, he should receive a commuted-rate schedule payment for moving his household goods as contemplated by the agency in computing his travel advance. Mr. Puustinen also claims per diem for his trip by boat to the new duty station. Finally, he seeks a mileage payment for the separate trip he took to move his automobile to the new duty station.

The determination to limit Mr. Puustinen's reimbursement to actual expenses was correct. The authorization of a $3,608 advance to Mr. Puustinen based on the commuted-rate system for the movement of household goods was clearly erroneous since use of that system is restricted to transfers that occur between points inside the continental United States. See 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(c) (1982); Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), para. 2-8.3a (Supp. 1, Nov. 1, 1981). For a transfer to a point outside the United States, when the employee elects to move his goods himself, reimbursement of actual expenses is the only method allowed. 46 Comp.Gen. 439 (1966). The actual expenses of moving Mr. Puustinen's household goods in his sailboat are the same as those allowed for his travel via the sailboat. That is, reimbursement is limited to the expenses directly connected with the operation of the sailboat, such as fuel, oil, and moorage or docking fees. 59 Comp.Gen. 737 (1980); 47 Comp.Gen. 325 (1967).

With respect to Mr. Puustinen's per diem claim, per diem is allowable for travel by sailboat. 59 Comp.Gen. 737, supra. Since the mode of travel was determined to be advantageous to the government, per diem is not limited to the constructive time by common carrier but may be paid for the actual travel time (exclusive of delay for repairs) if the agency is satisfied that Mr. Puustinen followed a direct route and the travel time was reasonable under the circumstances. Cf. Katharine B. Gebbie, B-227382, Apr. 8, 1988, concerning travel by private aircraft. However, since no expense was incurred for lodgings, a reduced per diem rate would be appropriate. See FTR para. 1-7.3a, and David A. Seel, B-224074, June 1, 1987. The agency should determine an appropriate rate and make payment on that basis.

As to Mr. Puustinen's request for reimbursement for driving his private automobile, his travel order provided for personal travel by boat, and shipment of his automobile at government expense was specifically precluded. Therefore, he is not entitled to a mileage allowance.