B-237198, Dec 20, 1989

B-237198: Dec 20, 1989

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Since only claims arising from erroneous payments are eligible for waiver and. The member had agreed to reimburse the government for tire replacement costs when he elected to have his mobile home transported. We find that the claim is not appropriate for waiver. Major Wheelock argues that it is entirely unfair to hold a member responsible for so large an expense incident to a permanent change of station. Transportation of a member's mobile home is authorized for a change of duty station under 37 U.S.C. The government's payments for mobile home moves are made in accordance with authorized practice and the understanding of all parties. Including the member electing to have the home moved.

B-237198, Dec 20, 1989

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Relocation - Mobile homes - Shipment costs - Reimbursement DIGEST: Government's claim against service member for the cost of 15 tires replaced by the carrier while moving the member's mobile home incident to a permanent change of station may not be waived, since only claims arising from erroneous payments are eligible for waiver and, pursuant to applicable regulations, the member had agreed to reimburse the government for tire replacement costs when he elected to have his mobile home transported.

Major Robert E. Wheelock, Jr., USAF:

Major Robert E. Wheelock, USAF, asks that our Office waive the Air Force's claim against him for the cost of purchasing 15 tires during a government-paid move of his mobile home from Laughlin AFB, Texas, to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, in connection with a permanent change of station. During the transit, a distance of 1100 miles, the carrier replaced a total of 15 tires, resulting in an excess charge of $965.25. After paying the carrier, the Air Force charged the same amount against Major Wheelock's military pay account. We find that the claim is not appropriate for waiver.

Major Wheelock argues that it is entirely unfair to hold a member responsible for so large an expense incident to a permanent change of station, especially where the basis for the charge appears unreasonable.

Our Office has no authority to waive the claim against Major Wheelock. Transportation of a member's mobile home is authorized for a change of duty station under 37 U.S.C. Sec. 409 in an amount equivalent to the cost of moving the maximum entitlement of household goods. The Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) prohibit payment by the government of enumerated costs associated with the trailer move, including costs for replacement parts, structural repairs, brake repairs, tire purchases and other repairs or maintenance performed during the move. JFTR, vol. 1, para. U5505E.

Section 2774 of title 10, U.S. Code, authorizes waiver of a claim of the United States against a person arising out of an erroneous payment of travel and transportation allowances made to or on behalf of a service member if collection of the erroneous payment would be against equity and good conscience and not in the government's best interests. In view of the statute's express language, before a claim can be considered for waiver it must be determined that it arose from an erroneous payment.

As we pointed out in our decision in Transportation Debt Waivers-- Household Goods and Mobile Homes, 67 Comp.Gen. 484 (1988), the government's payments for mobile home moves are made in accordance with authorized practice and the understanding of all parties, including the member electing to have the home moved, that excess costs are to be collected from the member. Claims for payments resulting from such moves thus are not subject to consideration for waiver under 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2774 because the payments themselves are considered properly made. See Sergeant Karen H. Gustin, USAF, B-229099, July 7, 1989.

Accordingly, there have been no erroneous payments in this case within the meaning of 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2774 that could be considered for waiver by our Office.