B-238566, Jul 5, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 560

B-238566: Jul 5, 1990

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Who have completed their service agreements. Panama Canal Commission - Advance Shipment of Household Goods: The issue presented is whether the Panama Canal Commission may fund the costs of an advance shipment of a portion of the household goods of its employees prior to the termination of their overseas service. The Commission is advised that there is existing statutory authority for it to do so. Nearly all of whom have executed transportation agreements. Have completed their required tour of duty overseas. Are eligible for return travel and transportation at government expense. 5 U.S.C.

B-238566, Jul 5, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 560

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Shipment - Advances The Panama Canal Commission may fund advance shipments of household goods for its eligible employees, who have completed their service agreements, under authority of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5729(a)(1) (1988).

Panama Canal Commission - Advance Shipment of Household Goods:

The issue presented is whether the Panama Canal Commission may fund the costs of an advance shipment of a portion of the household goods of its employees prior to the termination of their overseas service. The Commission is advised that there is existing statutory authority for it to do so.

BACKGROUND

Approximately 14 percent of the Panama Canal Commission's workforce consists of United States citizens, nearly all of whom have executed transportation agreements, have completed their required tour of duty overseas, and are eligible for return travel and transportation at government expense. 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5722(a)(2) (1988).

The Commission states that many of its employees want to ship portions of their household goods home prior to their return because of the unstable conditions which exist in Panama. The Commission has previously allowed its employees to ship their household goods home early, but at their own expense, subject to reimbursement upon separation, citing to Bernard R. Mazzoni, B-188345, Apr. 13, 1977. We held in Mazzoni that Commission employees could do so and receive reimbursement under statutory authority which provided for transportation expenses and advance shipment of household goods due to prior return of a family. 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5729(b) (1988).

OPINION

In addition to the authority to reimburse an employee for the cost of an advance shipment of household goods shipped at personal expense in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5729(b) (1988), subsection 5729(a)(1) provides for such shipment at government expense when the employee "has acquired eligibility for that transportation." An employee becomes eligible for return transportation under the plain language of the statute when he completes his agreed upon period of duty overseas. Bohdan P. Gregolynskyi, 60 Comp.Gen. 517 (1981); 32 Comp.Gen. 144 (1952); Merle L. Choffel, B-202401, Nov. 24, 1981; Federal Travel Regulations, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-1.12(e)(1) (1989).

The cost of the advance shipment, plus the cost of transporting the remainder of the employee's household goods, may not exceed the cost of transporting the property in one shipment by the most economical route and within the applicable weight limits. Merle L. Choffel, B-202401, supra; Federal Travel Regulations, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-1.12(e)(4) (1989).

According, the Panama Canal Commission may fund advance shipments of household goods for its eligible employees under the authority cited.