B-244500, Dec 1991

B-244500: Dec 2, 1991

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The employee is not deemed to have vacated the residence. The inconvenience caused the employee and his family while occupying the residence under these conditions is an insufficient basis for reimbursement of subsistence expenses. 2. Moved into a motel are entitled to reimbursement of the expenses of their dinner meal and lodging for that date as part of their temporary quarters subsistence expense reimbursement. 41 C.F.R. The only request made by the employee for separate travel by his wife was approximately 2 months after travel was performed. Since there was no error apparent on the face of the orders and the facts and circumstances do not clearly demonstrate that these provisions were definitely intended but were omitted through error or inadvertence.

B-244500, Dec 1991

DIGEST: 1. Where a transferred employee and his family remained in their residence at the old duty station after packing their household goods (HHG) for shipping, and did not initiate their travel or shipment of their HHG to the new duty station, the employee is not deemed to have vacated the residence. The inconvenience caused the employee and his family while occupying the residence under these conditions is an insufficient basis for reimbursement of subsistence expenses. 2. A transferred employee and his family, who arrived at the new duty station at about 2 p.m., and moved into a motel are entitled to reimbursement of the expenses of their dinner meal and lodging for that date as part of their temporary quarters subsistence expense reimbursement. 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-5.2(g)(1)(i). However, his temporary quarters eligibility period ends at midnight on the date the employee moved into his new residence. 41 C.F.R. Secs. 302-5.2(f) and 302- 5.2(g)(3). Any subsistence expense payment made subsequent to that date should be recouped. 3. Transferred employee's travel orders authorized use of one vehicle and no separate travel for his wife. The only request made by the employee for separate travel by his wife was approximately 2 months after travel was performed. The agency declined to amend the travel orders to allow these additional benefits inasmuch as advance authorization had not been approved. Since there was no error apparent on the face of the orders and the facts and circumstances do not clearly demonstrate that these provisions were definitely intended but were omitted through error or inadvertence, there is no authority to modify or amend the travel orders retroactively to allow these additional benefits.

Victor L. Feuerstein:

Mr. Victor L. Feuerstein, an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior, was transferred to Billings, Montana, with a reporting date of November 6, 1990. Mr. Feuerstein and his son left their residence at the old duty station on the morning of October 26, 1990, in a truck pulling a trailer and arrived in Billings in the afternoon of October 27, 1990. Mrs. Feuerstein remained at the old residence until the morning of October 27 to complete the household move and residence sale and drove their second POV straight through to Billings where she arrived late that same evening.

Mr. Feuerstein made a combined temporary quarters/en route per diem claim for himself, his wife and his son for the period October 24-31, 1990. also claimed mileage for the POV he drove as well as the POV driven by his wife.

The Bureau disallowed temporary quarters for October 24 and 25 for the reason that they had not vacated their old residence. The Bureau allowed en route per diem for October 26, and three quarters of a calendar day on October 27, as if all three members of the employee's family were traveling together, but did not include the expenses incurred by the employee for the last one-quarter of a calendar day on October 27. addition, the mileage claim for the POV driven by Mrs. Feuerstein was disallowed for the reason that separate travel by Mrs. Feuerstein was not authorized. Mr. Feuerstein has appealed the Bureau ruling.

Temporary Quarters Allowance at Old Duty Station

Mr. Feuerstein claimed temporary quarters expenses for October 24 and 25 because, even though he and his family continued to live in their old residence to conduct inventory, identify items to be packed and transported, and participate in the final inspection of the residence, they were unable to prepare meals due to lack of dishes, food supplies, and disconnected appliances during those last few days.

Section 302-5.2(c) of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) defines the term "temporary quarters" to mean any lodging obtained for the purpose of temporary occupancy by the employee and his family after vacating the residence quarters occupied at the time the transfer was authorized. While the term "vacate" is not defined in the FTR, we have generally considered a residence to have been vacated when the employee's family ceases to occupy it for the purposes intended. /1/ We have also ruled that the inconvenience to the employee and his family created by packing and preparing household goods for shipment is not sufficient to qualify an employee to receive temporary quarters expense reimbursement during the period. /2/

Although Mr. Feuerstein and his family were inconvenienced by the preparation for the move to Billings, the residence never qualified as temporary quarters under 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-5.2(c). Accordingly, the claim for October 24 and 25 may not be allowed.

Temporary Quarters Allowance at New Duty Station

Although Mr. Feuerstein has been reimbursed for temporary quarters subsistence expenses for October 28 and 29, 1990, while he and his family temporarily lived in a motel, he has not been reimbursed any subsistence expenses for October 27 following arrival in Billings. He also has been reimbursed subsistence expense for October 30 and 31, 1990, after he had moved into his permanent residence. We understand that it is Bureau policy to allow such payment for up to 3 days while an employee unpacks his household goods.

Mr. Feuerstein and his son arrived in Billings at approximately 2 p.m., thus concluding their travel. Under section 302-5.2(g)(1)(i) of the FTR, when en route travel is more than 24 hours, the eligibility period for temporary quarters subsistence expenses commences at the beginning of the calendar day quarter immediately following the calendar day quarter in which en route travel per diem ends. Therefore, since their en route travel ended during the third quarter of October 27, their temporary quarters period began at 6 p.m. on October 27, and both their evening meals and lodging expenses for October 27 are to be reimbursed as part of their temporary quarters claim at the new permanent duty station.

However, the subsistence expenses reimbursed to Mr. Feuerstein after he and his family moved into their permanent quarters should not have been allowed. Under section 302-5.2(f) of the FTR, the period of eligibility for temporary quarters "shall terminate when the employee or any member of the immediate family occupies permanent residence quarters." Also, FTR section 302-5.2(g)(3) provides that the temporary quarters period shall terminate at midnight of the last day of eligibility.

According to Mr. Feuerstein, their household goods shipment arrived on October 30, 1990, and they moved into their new residence that day. Therefore, his temporary quarters entitlement terminated at midnight on October 30. Since they stayed in their new residence that evening, their reimbursement for October 30 is limited to their meals expenses for the day. On adjustment, any subsistence expense payment made for October 31 is to be recouped.

Separate Travel of Wife

The travel authorization issued to Mr. Feuerstein only authorized the use of one POV for relocation travel. The only request he made for separate travel by his wife was in January 1991, approximately 2 months after travel was performed. The Bureau disallowed his request since the FTR requires authorization in advance of travel for use of an additional POV. We find no error in that determination. /3/ Accordingly, the mileage costs incurred by Mrs. Feuerstein in driving the second POV to Billings may not be reimbursed.

The reclaim travel vouchers submitted by Mr. Feuerstein are to be processed in accordance with the foregoing.

/1/ See Luther S. Clemmer, B-199347, Feb. 18, 1981; Erle B. Odekirk, B-187519, Jan. 26, 1977; and Charles C. Werner, B-185696, May 28, 1976.

/2/ See Gina Enrique, B-231587, Nov. 23, 1988; Jack P. Collins, B-190108, Feb. 13, 1978.

/3/ Aaron Lebowitz, B-233806, Nov. 16, 1989; and decisions cited.