B-234695, Feb 2, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 224

B-234695: Feb 2, 1990

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Even though the authorization is issued retroactively by amendment to the employee's order. Even though the spouse is a member of the uniformed services who is also being transferred. Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses We are asked whether a civilian employee's claim for temporary quarters subsistence expenses (TQSE) for her spouse. Who is a member of the armed forces. Provided there is no duplication of similar benefits and payment is otherwise proper. Schiller's authorization was amended on April 20. DCASR Cleveland denied the claim on the grounds that (1) the authorization was provided retroactively. OPINION Where there is an entitlement to relocation expenses under 5 U.S.C. The fact that the employee's travel order authorizing reimbursement was not issued until after the expenses were incurred does not reduce that entitlement or preclude reimbursement.

B-234695, Feb 2, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 224

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Temporary quarters - Actual subsistence expenses - Spouses - Eligibility MILITARY PERSONNEL - Relocation - Temporary quarters - Actual expenses - Spouses - Eligibility An agency may pay a civilian employee's claim for temporary quarters subsistence expenses for her spouse incident to her transfer, even though the authorization is issued retroactively by amendment to the employee's order, and even though the spouse is a member of the uniformed services who is also being transferred, provided reimbursement would not result in the couple receiving a duplication of payments for the same purpose.

Ms. Donna L. Schiller and Captain Gregory G. Schiller-- Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses

We are asked whether a civilian employee's claim for temporary quarters subsistence expenses (TQSE) for her spouse, who is a member of the armed forces, may be allowed. /1/ We conclude that the claim may be paid, provided there is no duplication of similar benefits and payment is otherwise proper.

BACKGROUND

The Department of Defense travel authorization transferring a civilian employee, Ms. Donna L. Schiller, from McClellan Air Force Base, California, directed her to report to the Defense Contract Administration Services Region (DCASR), Cleveland, Ohio, on or about March 23, 1987. The order authorized up to 60 days TQSE for Ms. Schiller and two dependents, a daughter and a son. By travel authorization dated February 2, 1987, the Air Force transferred Captain Gregory G. Schiller, Ms. Schiller's spouse, from McClellan Air Force Base to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, with a reporting date not later than April 30, 1987, changed by amendment to May 15, 1987.

Ms. Schiller's authorization was amended on April 20, 1987, adding Captain Schiller to the list of dependents eligible for TQSE. On that authority Ms. Schiller claimed $323 TQSE for her husband for the period from April 14 through April 27, 1987. DCASR Cleveland denied the claim on the grounds that (1) the authorization was provided retroactively, and (2) the Air Force issued a separate authorization transferring Captain Schiller, which the agency believed precluded Ms. Schiller from claiming him as a dependent for TQSE purposes.

OPINION

Where there is an entitlement to relocation expenses under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724 (1982), the fact that the employee's travel order authorizing reimbursement was not issued until after the expenses were incurred does not reduce that entitlement or preclude reimbursement. Donald F. Daly, B-209873, July 6, 1983; Franklin G. Goss, B-200841, Nov. 19, 1981. Here, if Ms. Schiller had a right to TQSE for her spouse, the retroactivity of the authorization would not preclude reimbursement.

We have held that when a civilian employee is married to a member of a uniformed service they are each entitled to benefits conferred as a result of their respective service, so long as the married couple does not receive duplicate payments of such benefits for the same purpose. See 54 Comp.Gen. 892 (1975); Lieutenant Colonel Robert and Mrs. Sara Karrer, B-202023, Dec. 4, 1981. See also Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), vol. 2, para. C4000-4 (change No. 241, Nov. 1, 1985). We have held specifically that a military member's basic allowance for quarters and basic allowance for subsistence are not duplicative of TQSE. See 54 Comp.Gen. 892, supra; 52 Comp.Gen. 962 (1973). See also 2 JTR para. C13002-3.

Subsequent to 54 Comp.Gen. 892, supra, a new allowance was added for uniformed service members who incur temporary lodging expenses in the United States incident to a permanent change of station. See 37 U.S.C. Sec. 404a (Supp. IV 1986) and volume 1, Joint Federal Travel Regulations, chapter 5, part H. Since this allowance is for the same purpose as the civilian TQSE allowance, it would be a duplication of payments if in this case Captain Schiller received the temporary lodging expense allowance for the same period Ms. Schiller claims him as her dependent for the TQSE allowance. However, there is no indication in the record before us that this occurred.

Accordingly, we conclude that Ms. Schiller's claim for her husband's TQSE should be paid, provided such payment would not result in the couple receiving a duplicate payment for the same purpose and the claim is otherwise proper.

/1/ The request was made through Headquarters, Defense Logistics Agency, by the Comptroller, Defense Contract Administration Services Region Cleveland.