B-239544, Jun 20, 1990

B-239544: Jun 20, 1990

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. Hart: A relocation services company was processing Mr. Whichever is the lesser amount. ...". Hart contends that he was not aware of the reimbursement ceiling. He states that he would have authorized the relocation company to sell the residence. In which case there would have been no similar limitation. We have recognized that the General Services Administration has not provided any ceiling on reimbursement when a relocation services contractor is used.

B-239544, Jun 20, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. To locate substantive decisions addressing this issue, refer to decisions indexed under the above listed index entry.

Corey W. Hart:

A relocation services company was processing Mr. Hart's old residence for marketing, incident to his transfer, when Mr. Hart sold the property himself for $270,000, and incurred selling expenses of $19,100. /1/ His agency limited reimbursement to $17,813, as provided in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), para. 302-6.2(g)(1) (Feb. 23, 1989), which provides an overall reimbursement limitation of "10 percent of the actual sale price or $17,813, whichever is the lesser amount. ..." The agency denied Mr. Hart's claim for $1,287, the difference between the amount of incurred expenses and the amount allowed. Mr. Hart contends that he was not aware of the reimbursement ceiling. If he had known, he states that he would have authorized the relocation company to sell the residence, in which case there would have been no similar limitation.

We have recognized that the General Services Administration has not provided any ceiling on reimbursement when a relocation services contractor is used. See David B. Pidduck, B-231992, Dec. 15, 1989, 69 Comp.Gen. ***; FTR, chapter 302-12. However, the regulation applicable when an employee claims reimbursement for a residence transaction, FTR, para. 302-6.2(g), provides a ceiling of $17,813 in this case. This is consistent with the statutory authority in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a (1988), which provides a ceiling of the lesser amount of 10 percent of the sale price or $15,000, subject to an annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index. See Ivan Allen Correll, 66 Comp.Gen. 472 (1987).

In this case, despite what Mr. Hart's understanding may have been concerning an allowance, his reimbursement is limited by FTR, para. 302 6.2(g) to $17,813. /2/ The regulations have the force of law and Mr. Hart's agency has no basis for making any exceptions therefrom. See Kenneth W. Sloop, B-229375, May 12, 1988.

Accordingly, Mr. Hart's claim may not be allowed.

/1/ This matter was referred by an authorized certifying officer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

/2/ We note that the agency stated that it furnishes every transferee with a relocation handbook which, among other things, advises transferees of the reimbursement ceiling should an employee elect to sell his home on his own.