B-242095, Jan 28, 1991

B-242095: Jan 28, 1991

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The error was discovered after the expenses were incurred but before the bill for the excess charges was paid by the agency. Waiver applies only where an erroneous payment has already been made and the employee is indebted to the government. The error was discovered before the storage charges were paid. The regulation providing a 180-day maximum temporary storage period was promulgated pursuant to statutory authority contained in 5 U.S.C. There is no debt owed the government. Waiver is available only where an erroneous payment has already been made by the government. No such payment was made in this case. Dougherty's bill for the excess temporary storage may not be granted. /1/ The request was made by the Director.

B-242095, Jan 28, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Household goods - Temporary storage - Time restrictions - Additional expenses DIGEST: 1. A transferred employee may not be allowed additional time for the temporary storage of household goods in excess of the 180-days authorized by the Federal Travel Regulations applicable to transfers. 2. An agency erroneously authorized the storage of household goods, incident to an employee's transfer, for a period that exceeded the time limit authorized by the Federal Travel Regulations. The error was discovered after the expenses were incurred but before the bill for the excess charges was paid by the agency. Erroneous advice may not be the basis for consideration of waiver. Waiver applies only where an erroneous payment has already been made and the employee is indebted to the government.

Richard D. Dougherty:

The Department of the Treasury /1/ asks whether the agency may waive the temporary storage time limit of 180 days applicable to household goods, /2/ and pay the charges that the carrier billed for 30 days of storage that exceeded the authorized time limit. The facts of record do not provide a legal basis for paying the excess storage bill.

The agency erroneously approved temporary storage for 210 days for Mr. Richard D. Dougherty when he transferred in November 1989. The error was discovered before the storage charges were paid, and upon the agency's request the carrier billed the employee $193.98 for the 30 excess days.

The regulation providing a 180-day maximum temporary storage period was promulgated pursuant to statutory authority contained in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(a)(2) (1988), and it has the force and effect of law. Therefore, neither the General Accounting Office nor the Department of the Treasury may waive, modify or extend the time limitations set forth therein. See David C. Funk, B-227488, Dec. 29, 1987, and cases cited. In another case affirming that principle, Angelo N. Grandelli, B-226937.2, Dec. 13, 1988, we recognized that an employee's debt, resulting from an erroneous authorization for excess periods of storage, may be considered for waiver under the authority in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584 (1988).

However, since the government has not paid the excess storage bill in Mr. Dougherty's case, there is no debt owed the government, the repayment of which may be waived. We explained in Rebecca T. Zagriniski, 66 Comp.Gen. 642 (1987) that 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5584(a) contains no authority to grant waiver for erroneous advice. Waiver is available only where an erroneous payment has already been made by the government, and no such payment was made in this case.

Accordingly, the agency's request for authority to pay Mr. Dougherty's bill for the excess temporary storage may not be granted.

/1/ The request was made by the Director, Office of Administration, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia, reference FIN 15 -1 (BFD).

/2/ The Federal Travel Regulations, 302-8.2(4)(d) (1980), provides for an initial period of 90 days for the storage of household goods, and an additional 90-day period which may be granted upon written request and agency approval.