B-240395, Jan 23, 1991

B-240395: Jan 23, 1991

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That erroneous information was reiterated in the employee's travel authorization. Manpower shortage category appointees have limited entitlements and any expenses incurred in excess of those entitlements may not be reimbursed. We are submitting the matter to the Congress under 31 U.S.C. Who was appointed to a manpower shortage position as a civil engineer. Proffitt was advised by agency personnel that the agency would pay relocation expenses. That information was reiterated in the travel authorization issued to him. The Air Force then discovered the error in the travel authorization and determined that as a manpower shortage appointee he was only entitled to limited travel expenses. He was only entitled to reimbursement of expenses in the amount of $223.50.

B-240395, Jan 23, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Meritorious claims APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Claims Against Government - Meritorious claims - Submission CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility - Manpower shortages DIGEST: A manpower shortage category appointee received erroneous advice from agency officials regarding travel and transportation entitlements to first duty station. That erroneous information was reiterated in the employee's travel authorization. Under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5723 (1988), manpower shortage category appointees have limited entitlements and any expenses incurred in excess of those entitlements may not be reimbursed. However, in view of the amount of expenses incurred by the employee in good faith reliance on the erroneous representations of agency officials, we are submitting the matter to the Congress under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d) (1988) as a meritorious claim.

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d) (1988), we submit the following report on the claim of Mr. William A. Proffitt, a resident of Lebanon, Tennessee, who was appointed to a manpower shortage position as a civil engineer, GS- 11, with the Department of the Air Force for duty in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, beginning in December 1989.

Mr. Proffitt was advised by agency personnel that the agency would pay relocation expenses, including per diem, temporary quarters, real estate and miscellaneous expenses in connection with his move. That information was reiterated in the travel authorization issued to him, and he received a $4,000 travel advance. According to correspondence received from Mr. Proffitt, he accepted the position based solely on the representations of the person hiring him that he would receive the full range of relocation expenses.

Following issuance of the travel authorization and the performance of travel, Mr. Proffitt filed a preliminary travel voucher. The Air Force then discovered the error in the travel authorization and determined that as a manpower shortage appointee he was only entitled to limited travel expenses. As a result, he was only entitled to reimbursement of expenses in the amount of $223.50, and he was determined to be indebted to the United States for the excess travel advance. Our Claims Group on March 27, 1990, waived his indebtedness for the balance of the travel advance. However, he has incurred additional expenses of between $5,000 and $6,000 which have not been reimbursed.

As a manpower shortage category appointee, Mr. Proffitt's entitlement to relocation expenses is limited by 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5723 (1988) to travel and transportation expenses and movement of household goods. Section 5723 does not allow reimbursement for temporary quarters subsistence expenses, real estate expenses, or a miscellaneous expense allowance. Accordingly, we have no authority to allow Mr. Proffitt's claim for the unreimbursed expenses which he has incurred.

The circumstances outlined above and the amount of the claim show that Mr. Proffitt relied upon the promise of full reimbursement in accepting federal employment. We do not believe that anything in his conduct would justify the personal financial loss that will occur without congressional intervention.

Based on the foregoing facts, we believe that this claim deserves the consideration of Congress as a meritorious claim. Mr. Proffitt acted in good faith reliance on the erroneous representations of agency officials. The travel authorization issued contained erroneous information consistent with those representations. See John H. Teele, 65 Comp.Gen. 679 (1986).

Provided the Congress concurs with our recommendation on this claim, it is our view that enactment of a statute in substantially the following language will accomplish the relief recommended:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, that William A. Proffitt is deemed to be an employee transferred by the Department of the Air Force from one official duty station to another for permanent duty in the interest of the government without a break in service incident to travel performed from Lebanon, Tennessee, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in November 1989, for the purpose of permitting reimbursement of relocation expenses authorized by 5 U.S.C. Secs. 5724 and 5724a, incident to that travel."