B-235177, Aug 23, 1989

B-235177: Aug 23, 1989

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Goglia was transferred from Syracuse. He was unsuccessful in locating suitable. Goglia's extension to 30 days was fair and consistent with decisions rendered to other employees in similar situations during the period of time in which Mr. Goglia was seeking a permanent residence. The FBI notes that its decision was consistent with provisions of the Federal Travel Regulations concerning the reasonableness of granting a temporary quarters extension. Goglia believes that the FBI's denial was arbitrary and unsupported. OPINION The regulations governing temporary quarters are contained in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) (Supp. 10. Heads of agencies shall prescribe procedures for administering these provisions reasonably and equitably so that the necessity for allowing subsistence expenses and the amount of time an employee and members of his/her immediate family use temporary quarters is justified in connection with the employee's transfer to a new official station.

B-235177, Aug 23, 1989

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Temporary quarters - Actual subsistence expenses - Eligibility - Extension DIGEST: An agency acted within its discretion when it denied an employee a 30-day extension of temporary quarters. Under the Federal Travel Regulations, an agency has broad discretion to limit the period of temporary quarters, or extensions, especially where an employee has taken a househunting trip.

John J. Goglia - Extension of Period of Temporary Quarters Expenses:

Mr. William Burrows, Jr., Authorized Certifying Officer, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), requests our opinion concerning the entitlement of an FBI employee, Mr. John J. Goglia, to an extension of temporary quarters subsistence expenses. We hold for the following reasons that the FBI properly denied the extension.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Goglia was transferred from Syracuse, New York, to Boston, Massachusetts, and he reported for duty on February 17, 1985, at which time he occupied temporary quarters. In connection with this transfer, Mr. Goglia made a househunting trip to seek permanent residence quarters, but he was unsuccessful in locating suitable, affordable housing.

During the initial 60 days of temporary quarters occupancy, Mr. Goglia continued to search for suitable housing in the metropolitan Boston area. Based upon its recognition of the extremely high cost of housing in the Boston area and Mr. Goglia's concerted attempts to locate suitable housing, the FBI granted him a 30-day extension of the initial 60-day temporary quarters subsistence expenses allowance. Prior to the expiration of this 30-day extension, Mr. Goglia located a suitable permanent residence in New Hampshire; he signed a purchase agreement on April 30, 1985, with closing occurring on June 28, 1985. Mr. Goglia then requested an additional 30-day extension of temporary quarters. The FBI denied this request, stating that he had utilized a househunting trip and had participated in the Bureau's Relocation Program to successfully sell his prior residence. Furthermore, the FBI states that its decision to limit Mr. Goglia's extension to 30 days was fair and consistent with decisions rendered to other employees in similar situations during the period of time in which Mr. Goglia was seeking a permanent residence. Finally, the FBI notes that its decision was consistent with provisions of the Federal Travel Regulations concerning the reasonableness of granting a temporary quarters extension. Mr. Goglia believes that the FBI's denial was arbitrary and unsupported.

OPINION

The regulations governing temporary quarters are contained in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) (Supp. 10, Mar. 13, 1984), incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101-7.003 (1985). Paragraph 2-5.1 of the FTR provides as follows:

"2-5.1. Policy. Heads of agencies shall prescribe procedures for administering these provisions reasonably and equitably so that the necessity for allowing subsistence expenses and the amount of time an employee and members of his/her immediate family use temporary quarters is justified in connection with the employee's transfer to a new official station. As a general policy, the period for temporary quarters shall be reduced or avoided if a round trip to seek permanent residence quarters has been made. ... The administrative determination as to whether the occupancy of temporary quarters is necessary and the length of time for occupancy shall be made on an individual-case basis."

Under paragraph 2-5.2a(2) of the FTR, an agency may grant an extension of up to 60 days only where there is a demonstrated need for an extension due to circumstances beyond the employee's control occurring within the initial 60-day period of temporary quarters. Examples of compelling reasons provided in the FTR include a delay of delivery of household goods, the inability to occupy a new residence due to unanticipated problems such as delays in settlement of a new residence, the inability to locate a permanent residence which is adequate for family needs because of housing conditions at the new official station, or sudden illness or death of the employee or a family member.

We have interpreted the temporary quarters regulations in the FTR as granting to the agency broad discretion to limit the period of temporary quarters, and we will not challenge the agency's determination absent evidence it was arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. Alexander Bell, B-201382, Aug. 26, 1981; Donald F. Daly, B-209873, July 6, 1983; B-174986, July 14, 1972. In light of the discretion granted to the agency to limit the period of temporary quarters, especially where a househunting trip has been performed, we have no basis to conclude that the FBI's determination in this case to deny the employee a final 30-day period of temporary quarters was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.

Accordingly, we sustain the agency's denial of Mr. Goglia's claim for an additional 30 days of temporary quarters.