B-233397.2, Jun 21, 1991, 70 Comp.Gen. 571

B-233397.2: Jun 21, 1991

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Which held that an employee who was permanently transferred to the place where he was on temporary duty. Is entitled to round-trip en route per diem and mileage expenses for return to his old duty station by privately owned automobile to retrieve stored household goods. Is affirmed. Interest is not payable on the claim in the absence of an express statutory or contractual authorization. Where he was on temporary duty assignment. Is entitled to en route per diem and mileage expenses by privately owned automobile for round-trip travel to Redding to retrieve stored household goods. Our conclusion was based on the provisions of paragraph 2-2.3a of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). /1/ which provide that relocation travel by privately owned vehicle is deemed to be advantageous to the government.

B-233397.2, Jun 21, 1991, 70 Comp.Gen. 571

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Travel expenses - Privately-owned vehicles - Mileage On reconsideration, our prior decision, James R. Stockbridge, 69 Comp.Gen. 424 (1990), which held that an employee who was permanently transferred to the place where he was on temporary duty, is entitled to round-trip en route per diem and mileage expenses for return to his old duty station by privately owned automobile to retrieve stored household goods, is affirmed. Interest is not payable on the claim in the absence of an express statutory or contractual authorization.

James R. Stockbridge-- Reconsideration-- Relocation Travel-- Mileage and Per Diem:

Mr. Roy E. Morris, Authorized Certifying Officer, Office of Surface Mining, United States Department of the Interior, requests reconsideration of our decision, James R. Stockbridge, B-233397, Apr. 27, 1990, published at 69 Comp.Gen. 424. We held that Mr. Stockbridge, an employee of the agency, who had been permanently transferred from Redding, California, to Washington, D.C., where he was on temporary duty assignment, is entitled to en route per diem and mileage expenses by privately owned automobile for round-trip travel to Redding to retrieve stored household goods. Our conclusion was based on the provisions of paragraph 2-2.3a of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), /1/ which provide that relocation travel by privately owned vehicle is deemed to be advantageous to the government.

In support of the request for reconsideration, the certifying officer has submitted a supplementary administrative report in which he states that prior to returning to Redding, Mr. Stockbridge requested that the Government Bill of Lading (GBL) include shipment of an inoperative automobile to Washington, D.C. The certifying officer alleges that when Mr. Stockbridge was advised that he could not include transportation of an inoperative automobile in his household goods shipment, he opted to drive to Redding and tow the automobile to Washington, D.C. The certifying officer therefore believes that the only reason Mr. Stockbridge drove from Washington, D.C., to Redding and back was to tow the inoperative automobile. The certifying officer states that by driving to Redding, Mr. Stockbridge was absent from his job for a longer period of time and essentially cost the government more money by his absence.

In his written response to the supplementary administrative report, Mr. Stockbridge states that the purpose of his return trip to Redding was to account for the transfer of his house-hold goods from storage to the moving van and to protect his furnishings from unrecoupable damage by the transfer agent. He says that there were certain items that the transfer agent was unable to transport, i.e., a canoe, several hundred board feet of expensive ($4.50 per board foot) black walnut lumber, several sheets of veneer-grade plywood, cleaning solvents, furniture finishing liquids, and an antique 1948 Willys Jeep. Mr. Stockbridge states that he was able to load all of these items on his pick-up truck, except the Jeep, which he towed behind his truck, for the trip back to Washington, D.C.

Mr. Stockbridge contends that had he been required to travel by common carrier, he would have had to liquidate or dispose of the items discussed above which, under normal relocation conditions, he would have been able to move. He states that had he been required to dispose of these items, which a prudent man would not do, it would have taken approximately 1 week of additional time in Redding to accomplish this task. He also states that, in using his pick-up truck to move some of his household goods, he drove in excess of 700 miles per day (as opposed to the regulatory standard of 350 miles per day).

Mr. Stockbridge also requests that we address the issue of the payment of interest on the amount of his claim, either from the date of his original claim, the date of our initial decision, or the date of this decision.

As discussed in our decision of April 27, 1990, FTR, para. 2-2.3a, which governs reimbursement for Mr. Stockbridge's use of his privately owned vehicle (POV) for his travel, clearly establishes the use of such a vehicle for permanent change-of-station travel as being advantageous to the government and allows no discretion by agency officials to conclude otherwise. Dominic D. D'Abate, 63 Comp.Gen. 2 (1983).

The additional information submitted by the certifying officer as to the reasons why Mr. Stockbridge chose to travel by POV rather than by commercial carrier do not compel us to reverse our prior decision. Mr. Stockbridge's response shows that the reasons for the use of his POV for the trip to and from Redding were to arrange for the transfer of his household goods from storage to the moving company and for the transportation of the remaining household goods by his privately owned vehicle to Washington, D.C. We believe his use of a POV for these purposes was entirely consistent with the established rule that such travel incident to a transfer is treated as advantageous to the government.

Accordingly, we affirm our decision of April 27, 1990. Mr. Stockbridge's reclaim voucher should be processed in conformance with that ruling.

With respect to the payment of interest on the amount of the claim, it is a well-settled rule of law that the payment of interest on claims against the government of the United States may be made only under an express statutory or contractual authorization. /2/Therefore, interest may not be paid on Mr. Stockbridge's claim.

/1/ (Supp. 1, Sept. 28, 1981), incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101 7.003 (1988).

/2/ Seaboard Air Line Railway v. United States, 261 U.S. 299, 304 (1923); Smyth v. United States, 302 U.S. 329, 353 (1937); Fitzgerald v. Staats, 578 F.2d 435 (D.C. Cir. 1978); 45 Comp.Gen. 169 (1965); Leland M. Wilson, B-205373, Apr. 24, 1984.