B-241984, May 13, 1991

B-241984: May 13, 1991

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Actual expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: New employee from California was appointed to position in Virgin Islands. There is no legal basis upon which the employee's claim for reimbursement may be authorized. Nor is there a legal basis for reporting this claim to the Congress under the Meritorious Claims Act. Borck was hired in California by the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA). At the time of his appointment he was erroneously advised by FmHA personnel that he was not entitled to relocation expenses. Borck was correctly advised that he was entitled to certain relocation expenses. Is on his second voucher. Borck claims the constructive cost of shipment of his household goods and privately owned vehicles that he would not have sold (or otherwise disposed of) and would have shipped to the Virgin Islands had he been given the correct information at the time of his appointment.

B-241984, May 13, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Actual expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: New employee from California was appointed to position in Virgin Islands. He disposed of a portion of his household goods and privately owned vehicles due to erroneous advice from agency personnel that new employees bear the expense of transporting household goods from place of residence at the time of his appointment to the Virgin Islands. The employee has filed a claim for the constructive cost of transporting the items which he had previously disposed of. There is no legal basis upon which the employee's claim for reimbursement may be authorized, nor is there a legal basis for reporting this claim to the Congress under the Meritorious Claims Act.

Richard D. Borck:

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) requests a decision as to whether the voucher of Mr. Richard D. Borck for $11,661.24, may be certified for payment. /1/ Mr. Borck was hired in California by the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), USDA, as a new appointee, effective November 6, 1988, with a permanent duty station in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. At the time of his appointment he was erroneously advised by FmHA personnel that he was not entitled to relocation expenses. Nevertheless, Mr. Borck accepted the appointment, and sold or otherwise disposed of certain items of his household goods, including his privately owned vehicles and miscellaneous furniture. At a later date, before he moved, Mr. Borck was correctly advised that he was entitled to certain relocation expenses, including transportation and temporary storage of household goods and one privately owned vehicle, as a new appointee outside the continental United States under 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-1.12 (1990).

Mr. Borck submitted a voucher for his actual household goods shipment and received partial payment. The question presented to us, however, is on his second voucher. That voucher covers a claim for the estimated cost of shipping and storage of the items that Mr. Borck sold or disposed of. In other words, Mr. Borck claims the constructive cost of shipment of his household goods and privately owned vehicles that he would not have sold (or otherwise disposed of) and would have shipped to the Virgin Islands had he been given the correct information at the time of his appointment.

There is no legal basis to authorize payment for household goods and personal effects which Mr. Borck did not ship due to the erroneous information he received from FmHA personnel. The receipt of information later established to be erroneous by one dealing with a government official does not afford a legal basis for a payment from appropriated funds. Office of Personnel Management v. Richmond, 110 S.Ct. 2465 (1990); Federal Crop Insurance Corporation v. Merrill, 332 U.S. 380 (1947); Steven A. Knutson, B-204372, Feb. 8, 1982; 56 Comp.Gen. 943, 950 (1977).

Under the Meritorious Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(d) (1988), we refer to Congress claims on which we may not authorize payment, but which we believe Congress should consider for legal or equitable reasons. We have consistently held that the meritorious claims procedure is an extraordinary one and its use is limited to extraordinary circumstances. In Steven A. Knutson, supra, we were presented with a fact pattern very similar to Mr. Borck's and we did not find that the circumstances justified reporting the claim to Congress as a meritorious claim. Similarly, we do not believe that Mr. Borck's case presents such extraordinary circumstances and elements of unusual equity as to warrant its submission to Congress under the Meritorious Claims Act.

This request was submitted by Jeanne DiGange, an Authorized Certifying Officer, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3529 (1988). Reference: FSD-1 WDM. The nature of Mr. Borck's claim is further explained below.