B-234157, Aug 17, 1989

B-234157: Aug 17, 1989

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility - Manpower shortages CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Travel expenses - Manpower shortages DIGEST: An individual was appointed from the private sector to a manpower shortage category position. His travel authorization erroneously permitted him the full range of relocation expense reimbursements as though he was a transferring employee. Since the total expenses incurred were significant and the individual acted in good faith reliance on the erroneous representations of agency officials. We have the honor to transmit our report and recommendations to the Congress concerning the claim of Mr. Based on representations by agency officials who provided him with erroneous information regarding his relocation expense entitlements and travel orders which were issued containing the same erroneous information.

B-234157, Aug 17, 1989

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility - Manpower shortages CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Travel expenses - Manpower shortages DIGEST: An individual was appointed from the private sector to a manpower shortage category position. Instead of being limited to the travel and transportation expense reimbursements authorized by 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5723 (1982), his travel authorization erroneously permitted him the full range of relocation expense reimbursements as though he was a transferring employee. The claim in excess of the limited entitlements may not be paid. However, since the total expenses incurred were significant and the individual acted in good faith reliance on the erroneous representations of agency officials, we submit the matter to the Congress for favorable consideration under the Meritorious Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3702(d) (1982).

The Honorable J. Danforth Quayle:

Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d) (1982), we have the honor to transmit our report and recommendations to the Congress concerning the claim of Mr. Izzydor Shever to be reimbursed full relocation expenses as though he had been an employee of the federal government transferred in the interest of the government from one duty station to another for permanent duty.

In essence, this claim involves a person living in Newport News, Virginia, who accepted a job offer from the Department of the Army for a manpower shortage category position in Falls Church, Virginia. Based on representations by agency officials who provided him with erroneous information regarding his relocation expense entitlements and travel orders which were issued containing the same erroneous information, he accepted the position in good faith and incurred travel expenses, which, but for the fact he was a new employee, would have been reimbursed. For the reasons stated in our report, we believe the claim deserves the favorable consideration of the Congress.

An identical report is being transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d) (1982), we submit the following report on the claim of Mr. Izzydor Shever, a resident of Newport News, Virginia, who was appointed from the private sector to a manpower shortage position with the Department of the Army in Falls Church, Virginia. Mr. Shever was erroneously advised by agency personnel that he was entitled to be reimbursed full relocation expenses as if he were a federal employee being transferred to a new duty station. That erroneous information was reiterated in the travel authorization issued to him. Mr. Shever accepted the position even though the federal salary was lower than his private sector salary with the expectation that he would receive full reimbursement of his expenses.

Subsequent to issuance of the travel authorization and to performance of the travel by Mr. Shever and his family, he filed a preliminary travel reimbursement claim in the amount of $11,800.08. The Department of the Army then discovered the error in the travel authorization and determined that, since he was not an employee entitled to limited travel expenses, which presently total $4,509.34. As a manpower shortage category appointee, Mr. Shever's entitlement to relocation expenses is governed by 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5723 (1982) which limits reimbursement to travel and transportation expenses of the appointee and his immediate family and movement of household goods.

Section 5723 does not allow such reimbursement for temporary quarters subsistence expenses, real estate expenses, or miscellaneous expenses. Accordingly, we find no basis within our authority to grant Mr. Shever's claim. See John H. Teele, 65 Comp.Gen. 679 (1986). However, based on the foregoing facts, we believe that this claim deserves the consideration of Congress as a meritorious claim. Mr. Shever acted in good faith reliance on the erroneous representations of agency officials. The travel authorization issued contained erroneous information consistent with those representations. Mr. Shever was unintentionally misled by agency officials to his financial detriment. The amount of the claim is significant enough to show that the expectation of reimbursement may well have influenced Mr. Shever to accept the federal employment. We do not believe that anything in Mr. Shever's conduct would justify the personal loss that would occur without congressional intervention.

Provided the Congress concurs with our recommendation on this claim, it is our view that enactment of a statute in substantially the following language will accomplish the relief recommended:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, that Izzydor Shever is deemed to be an employee transferred by the Department of the Army from one official station to another for permanent interest of the government without a break in service incident to travel performed from Newport News, Virginia, to Falls Church, Virginia, in July 1988, for the purpose of permitting reimbursement of relocation expenses authorized by 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724 and 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a, incident to that travel."

Mr. John S. Raymos:

This is to advise you that we have submitted the relocation expenses claim of Mr. Izzydor Shever to the Congress as a meritorious claim pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d). A copy of our report to the Congress is enclosed for your information.

We note that the matter involves, in part, a debt to the United States in the amount of $2,463.66 representing an erroneous travel advance to Mr. Shever in excess of his legitimate expenses. Should the Congress not favorably consider the requested relief, that debt may be submitted here for waiver consideration under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584 and 4 C.F.R. Parts 91- 93.

Enclosure