B-236321, Feb 16, 1990

B-236321: Feb 16, 1990

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DIGEST: Where an employee whose position was abolished declined transfer offer by her agency but instead transferred to another agency of her choice. Agency's determination that the transfer was primarily for the convenience or benefit of the employee. Was not arbitrary or clearly erroneous. Bradshaw: This decision is in response to a request from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) concerning the claim of Ms. Bradshaw was employed as a Quality Assurance Program Assistant by the Defense Contract Administration in Nashville. Bradshaw's position was abolished and she was reassigned to another Quality Assurance Program Assistant's position in Birmingham. Permanent change of station travel orders were issued for this transfer.

B-236321, Feb 16, 1990

DIGEST: Where an employee whose position was abolished declined transfer offer by her agency but instead transferred to another agency of her choice, agency's determination that the transfer was primarily for the convenience or benefit of the employee, thereby precluding reimbursement of relocation expenses, was not arbitrary or clearly erroneous.

Lonia J. Bradshaw:

This decision is in response to a request from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) concerning the claim of Ms. Lonia J. Bradshaw for reimbursement of relocation expenses. /1/

Ms. Bradshaw was employed as a Quality Assurance Program Assistant by the Defense Contract Administration in Nashville, Tennessee. Due to a reduction in force, Ms. Bradshaw's position was abolished and she was reassigned to another Quality Assurance Program Assistant's position in Birmingham, Alabama. Permanent change of station travel orders were issued for this transfer. However, Ms. Bradshaw declined her agency's transfer orders to Birmingham in order to accept a position at the same grade with the Naval Aviation Depot in Jacksonville, Florida. She explained that the Navy position in Jacksonville accommodated her need better than Birmingham, Alabama.

Ms. Bradshaw's subsequent claim for reimbursement of relocation expenses was denied by DLA on the grounds that since Ms. Bradshaw declined the position that was offered to her, and instead accepted a position with Navy, her move to Jacksonville was for personal reasons and primarily for her convenience. The Naval Aviation Deport, Jacksonville, the gaining agency, also declined to pay Ms. Bradshaw's relocation expenses.

Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) para. 2-1.5d(1) /2/ provides that when an employee is assigned to a new official station after having been notified of a reduction in force, the transfer of the employee is deemed to be in the interest of the government unless there is an affirmative administrative determination that the transfer is primarily for the employee's convenience or benefit. Under FTR, para. 2-1.3, agencies have the responsibility for determining whether a particular transfer is in the interest of the government or is primarily for the convenience or benefit of an employee. Agencies have broad discretion in making that determination. Where an agency acts under this authority we will not disturb its determination unless it is clearly erroneous, arbitrary;, or capricious. Carol S. Stanley, B-212687, Feb. 22, 1984; Russell F. Gober, B-209085, Mar. 22, 1983.

In this case, DLA made the requisite determination that Ms. Bradshaw's transfer was primarily for her convenience or benefit. The agency pointed to the fact that Ms. Bradshaw took the initiative in obtaining the job offer from the Navy after DLA had already offered her a transfer, and to Ms. Bradshaw's statement that the transfer to the Navy better accommodated her need. The DLA also noted that Joint Travel Regulation (JTR), volume 2, paragraph C4100-2(b) (Feb. 1, 1988), states that if the employee has taken the initiative in obtaining a transfer to another location, such transfer shall be considered to be primarily for the convenience and benefit of the employee or at her request.

We cannot say that this determination was arbitrary, capricious or clearly erroneous, so as to disturb the denial of relocation expenses in connection with Ms. Bradshaw's transfer.

/1/ The request was submitted by Charles R. Coffee, Acting Chief, Accounting and Finance Division, Office of Comptroller, Defense Logistics Agency, through the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee, PDTATAC Control No. 89-12.

/2/ Supp. 10, Mar. 13, 1984, incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101 7.003 (1988).