B-237884, Jul 5, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 559

B-237884: Jul 5, 1990

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility An employee who transferred from Missouri to Germany for personal convenience and was subsequently transferred to Illinois in the interest of the government. Is not entitled to reimbursement for real estate expenses in connection with the sale of his home in Missouri and the purchase of a house in Illinois. Only employees who were transferred to a foreign area in the interest of the government and who have completed a tour of duty in a foreign area as provided for in a service agreement are entitled to be reimbursed their real estate expenses. Transfer from Nonforeign Area: The issue in this decision is whether an employee who transferred to a foreign area for personal convenience and was subsequently transferred back to the United States in the interest of the government may be reimbursed his real estate expenses associated with the transfer back to the United States and purchase of a home.

B-237884, Jul 5, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 559

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility An employee who transferred from Missouri to Germany for personal convenience and was subsequently transferred to Illinois in the interest of the government, is not entitled to reimbursement for real estate expenses in connection with the sale of his home in Missouri and the purchase of a house in Illinois. Only employees who were transferred to a foreign area in the interest of the government and who have completed a tour of duty in a foreign area as provided for in a service agreement are entitled to be reimbursed their real estate expenses.

Michael D. Merritt-- Real Estate Expenses-- Transfer from Nonforeign Area:

The issue in this decision is whether an employee who transferred to a foreign area for personal convenience and was subsequently transferred back to the United States in the interest of the government may be reimbursed his real estate expenses associated with the transfer back to the United States and purchase of a home. We hold that the employee is not entitled to be reimbursed.

BACKGROUND

This responds to a request from Captain R. G. Tangeman, Department of Defense Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee, Alexandria, Virginia, concerning the applicability of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a, as amended by Public Law 100-202, to Michael D. Merritt, an employee who transferred to Frankfurt, Germany for personal convenience.

In August 1984, Mr. Merritt's wife accepted a position with the Department of the Army in Frankfurt, Germany. In September 1984, Mr. Merritt transferred from a position with the General Services Administration in Kansas City to a position with the Department of the Army in Frankfurt. Mr. Merritt's transfer was not in the interest of the government and, therefore, he was not entitled to transportation expenses. Rather, he traveled to Frankfurt as a dependent on his wife's travel orders. The Merritts owned a home near Kansas City which they did not sell while they were in Frankfurt.

In March 1988, Mr. Merritt was transferred in the interest of the government from his position with the Army in Frankfurt to a position with the Defense Logistics Agency in Rockford, Illinois. Mr. Merritt's wife returned to Kansas City in May 1988, and it appears from the record she was not entitled to real estate expenses since she was not transferred back to a different duty station in the United States. The Merritts then sold their home near Kansas City and purchased a home in Rockford in June 1988.

Mr. Merritt is claiming reimbursement for real estate expenses relating to the sale of his home near Kansas City and the purchase of his home in Rockford. Mr. Merritt claims entitlement to reimbursement under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a), as amended by Public Law 100-202. His claim was denied by the Defense Logistics Agency.

OPINION

Under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a)(4)(A), as amended by Public Law 100-202, 101 Stat. 1329-430, 431, Dec. 22, 1987, employees may be reimbursed real estate expenses if they are transferred to a foreign area and subsequently transferred to a different location in a nonforeign area than the one from which they transferred when assigned to the foreign area. The General Services Administration (GSA), in issuing Federal Travel Regulation Amendment 2, 54 Fed.Reg. 37811, 37812 (1989), 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-6.1(g), limits the applicability of this provision of the statute to employees who have completed an agreed upon tour of duty in a foreign area.

The legislative history of the amendments to section 5724a lends support to GSA's interpretation of the statute. First, we note that the language of the provision was proposed by our Office with the intention that both transfers to and from the foreign area must be in the interest of the government. See B-199549, Mar. 30, 1987. Also, in his remarks introducing the amendment, Senator John Warner indicated that the amendment was intended to apply to those employees who have been directed or required to relocate overseas. See 133 Cong. Rec. S17914 (daily ed. Dec. 11, 1987).

Accordingly, since Mr. Merritt was transferred to Germany for personal convenience and did not serve or complete an agreed upon tour of duty, he is not entitled to reimbursement for real estate expenses in connection with the sale of his home near Kansas City and the purchase of a home in Rockford.