B-242558, Jun 19, 1991

B-242558: Jun 19, 1991

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He is not entitled to reimbursement of expenses incurred in the sale of his Grand Junction residence since both the old and new official stations are not located within the United States. Personnel in the Bureau's Grand Junction Projects Office were notified that the Planning Division. Clay was employed. Was assigned to work in Brazil. Clay was informed by Bureau officials that a position would not be available for him in Grand Junction upon his return from Brazil and that a position probably would be available for him in Denver. Clay was returned to a position with the Bureau in Grand Junction on December 18. Both old and new duty stations must be located within the United States or other named locations to entitle an employee to reimbursement of the expenses of selling or purchasing a residence. /2/ The only exception to that requirement is amended section 5724a(a)(4)(A).

B-242558, Jun 19, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Reimbursement - Eligibility DIGEST: Employee transferred to Brasilia, Brazil, from Grand Junction, Colorado, and returned to his former duty station upon completion of the overseas assignment. He is not entitled to reimbursement of expenses incurred in the sale of his Grand Junction residence since both the old and new official stations are not located within the United States, or other specified areas, nor did he return to a different duty station in the United States. See 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a)(4)(A) (1988); 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-6.1(a) (1989).

Donald E. Clay:

The Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior (DOI), requests a decision as to the propriety of reimbursing Mr. Donald E. Clay, an employee of the agency, for real estate expenses incurred in the sale of his former residence in Grand Junction, Colorado, incident to a permanent change of station from Grand Junction to Brasilia, Brazil, and his return to Grand Junction upon completion of the overseas assignment. /1/

In February 1988, personnel in the Bureau's Grand Junction Projects Office were notified that the Planning Division, in which Mr. Clay was employed, would be abolished and that positions would be transferred to the Denver, Colorado, office by June 1988. Mr. Clay, however, was assigned to work in Brazil.

In April 1988, Mr. Clay was informed by Bureau officials that a position would not be available for him in Grand Junction upon his return from Brazil and that a position probably would be available for him in Denver. Mr. Clay transferred to Brazil in June 1988. He sold his residence in the Grand Junction area in September 1988. In October 1988, he submitted a travel voucher claiming reimbursement of expenses of $6,099 incurred in the sale of the residence. The certifying officer declined to certify the voucher for payment.

Contrary to the earlier advice he had received, Mr. Clay was returned to a position with the Bureau in Grand Junction on December 18, 1989, upon completion of his overseas assignment in Brazil. Following his return, Mr. Clay requested reconsideration of his claim as an exception based on the foregoing circumstances.

Under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a)(4)(A) (1988) and the implementing regulations, Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-6.1(a) (1989), both old and new duty stations must be located within the United States or other named locations to entitle an employee to reimbursement of the expenses of selling or purchasing a residence. /2/

The only exception to that requirement is amended section 5724a(a)(4)(A). The amendment removed the requirement but only with respect to expenses incurred by an employee in the sale of a residence in the United States upon transfer from a foreign duty post to a different official station in the United States. /3/ Therefore, the amendment is not applicable to Mr. Clay's claim since he returned from his overseas post to the same duty station, Grand Junction, in the United States.

Here, upon transfers from Grand Junction to Brazil and return, both of Mr. Clay's old and new duty stations were not located within the United States or other named locations, nor did he transfer back to a new duty station in the United States as required under the 1987 amendment. Therefore, he is not entitled to reimbursement of the expenses incurred in the sale of his Grand Junction residence.

This Office has no authority to grant an exception to the clearly stated statutory and regulatory provisions, even though Mr. Clay may have acted in reliance upon the erroneous advice given by DOI officials. /4/ Therefore, his claim is denied.

/1/ The request was submitted by Ms. Sandra L. Inglefield, Authorized Certifying Officer, Bureau of Reclamation, DOI.

/2/ 47 Comp.Gen. 93 (1967); 54 Comp.Gen. 1006 (1975); B-241183, Jan. 30, 1991; Frederick J. Donnelly, B-237607, May 21, 1990; Mark Z. Brandon, III, B-210331, July 12, 1983; Army Corps of Engineers, B-194423, Mar. 31, 1980; John S. Treadwell, B-192659, Feb. 14, 1979; Terence R. St. Louis, B-188414, July 11, 1977.

/3/ Public Law 100-202, Sec. 101(m) Title VI, Sec. 628(a)(1), Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1329-430, 431.

/4/ Treadwell, supra; St. Louis, supra.