B-231785, Aug 3, 1988

B-231785: Aug 3, 1988

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Houseboats - Shipment costs - Reimbursement - Distance determination DIGEST: An employee wishes to have his boat transported from Florida. Dooley - Shipment of Boat Used as a Residence: This is an advance decision in response to a request by Mr. He is to report to duty in August 1988. Dooley wishes to have the boat transported to the Virgin Islands at government expense at an estimated cost of $8. Allows for transportation expenses of mobile dwellings which are used as permanent residences at a cost not to exceed the cost of transportation and temporary storage of the employee's household goods and personal effects. We have included boats as being a "mobile dwelling" under section 5724(b).

B-231785, Aug 3, 1988

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Houseboats - Shipment costs - Reimbursement - Distance determination DIGEST: An employee wishes to have his boat transported from Florida, his old duty station, to the Virgin Islands, his new duty station, at government expense. Because 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(b) (1982) and the Federal Travel Regulations do not authorize transportation of mobile dwellings outside the continental United States or Alaska, the employee may not be reimbursed for transporting the boat to the Virgin Islands.

Kevin P. Dooley - Shipment of Boat Used as a Residence:

This is an advance decision in response to a request by Mr. Richard L. Moseley, Transportation Officer, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), concerning relocation expenses of Mr. Kevin P. Dooley, an employee of the FBI. Mr. Dooley wishes to be reimbursed for the transportation of his boat from Florida to the Virgin Islands. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that these expenses may not be reimbursed.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Dooley has been transferred from Largo, Florida, to Charlotte Amille, St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands, and he is to report to duty in August 1988. Mr. Dooley owns a boat valued at approximately $80,000 to $85,000, that he uses as his permanent residence in Florida. Mr. Dooley wishes to have the boat transported to the Virgin Islands at government expense at an estimated cost of $8,000.

ANALYSIS

The governing statute, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(b) (1982), allows for transportation expenses of mobile dwellings which are used as permanent residences at a cost not to exceed the cost of transportation and temporary storage of the employee's household goods and personal effects. In previous decisions, we have included boats as being a "mobile dwelling" under section 5724(b). See Adam W. Mink, 62 Comp.Gen. 289 (1983); Lieutenant Christopher J. Donovan, 62 Comp.Gen. 292 (1983).

Mr. Dooley, however, is asking to have his boat transferred outside the continental United States. The statute specifically allows for reimbursement of the cost of transportation of a mobile dwelling within the continental United States, between the continental United States and Alaska, or within Alaska. The statute does not allow for transportation to the Virgin Islands because the Virgin Islands are not within the continental United States or Alaska. Likewise, the implementing regulations contained in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), /1/ Para. 2 -7.1(b), do not authorize transporting a mobile home outside the "conterminous United States" or Alaska. The "conterminous United States" is defined in FTR, Para. 2-1.4(a) as the 48 continuous states and the District of Columbia.

The agency first asks whether 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(b) provides for the transportation of a mobile dwelling outside of the conterminous United States. The answer, as mandated by the statute, is no.

The agency then asks if a mobile dwelling can be shipped from one point within the conterminous United States to another point within the United States for debarking. The controlling authority, FTR, Para. 2 7.1(b), provides for transportation of mobile homes within the conterminous United States, even though the shipment originates, terminates, or passes through locations not covered. Therefore, the answer is yes.

Finally, the employee asks if the cost of transporting the mobile dwelling from one point in the United States to another can be used in comparison to offset the cost incurred in sailing the boat to the Virgin Islands. Because the statute is specific and clear and does not provide for reimbursement in that situation, the answer is no.

The agency points out that it might be cheaper for the government to transport the boat to the Virgin Islands than to pay other expenses incurred by Mr. Dooley if he has to sell the boat. While we recognize the potential savings to the government by transporting the boat to the Virgin Islands, we must point out that the applicable statute and regulation are simply not open to interpretation and unequivocally do not include transporting mobile dwellings to the Virgin Islands.

/1/ Supp. 1, Sept, 28, 1981, incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101 7.003 (1987).