B-247042, May 12, 1992

B-247042: May 12, 1992

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Anforth - Relocation - Miscellaneous Expenses: The issues in this case are whether Mr. An employee who has discontinued and reestablished a residence in connection with his transfer is entitled to a miscellaneous expense allowance under 5 U.S.C. Whichever is the lesser amount. Will be paid without support or documentation of the claimed expenses. Where documentation of expenses is supplied. Section 302-3.1(b)(1) of the FTR specifically includes as reimbursable miscellaneous expenses fees for disconnecting and connecting appliances and equipment that are common to living quarters. We have stated that the standard for assessing commonness to living quarters should not be too restrictive. We have held that a swimming pool.

B-247042, May 12, 1992

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Relocation - Residence transaction expenses - Miscellaneous expenses - Reimbursement DIGEST: A transferred employee may be reimbursed the costs of having water filtration and electronic security systems disconnected at his old residence and installed at his new residence as a miscellaneous expense. The employee may also be reimbursed, as a miscellaneous expense, for the postage costs for mailing documents to the relocation company handling the exchange of his residences. See Federal Travel Regulations, 41 C.F.R. Part 302-3 (1990).

Craig B. Anforth - Relocation - Miscellaneous Expenses:

The issues in this case are whether Mr. Craig B. Anforth, an employee transferred by the Department of Agriculture, may be reimbursed the costs of having water filtration and electronic security systems disconnected at his old residence and installed at his new residence, and whether he may be reimbursed the cost of postage for mailing documents to his relocation company. /1/ We hold that the costs may be reimbursed as miscellaneous expenses of relocation.

An employee who has discontinued and reestablished a residence in connection with his transfer is entitled to a miscellaneous expense allowance under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(b) (1988), as implemented in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Part 302-3 (1990). According to the record, Mr. Anforth has received a miscellaneous allowance of $700, as authorized by 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-3.3(a)(2). That section provides that allowances of $700 or the equivalent of 2 weeks basic pay, whichever is the lesser amount, will be paid without support or documentation of the claimed expenses, to an employee with an immediate family.

Where documentation of expenses is supplied, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302 3.3(b) provides that, if the allowable miscellaneous expenses of an employee with immediate family exceed $700, those additional expenses may be paid to the extent their total does not exceed the lesser of the employee's basic pay for two weeks or the maximum basic pay rate of grade GS-13 for that period. Accordingly, Mr. Anforth submitted a reclaim voucher along with receipts for miscellaneous expenses in the amount of $918.85, including the expenses at issue here.

Mr. Anforth seeks reimbursement for the costs of disconnecting water filtration and electronic security systems from the old residence and installing the systems in his new residence. Section 302-3.1(b)(1) of the FTR specifically includes as reimbursable miscellaneous expenses fees for disconnecting and connecting appliances and equipment that are common to living quarters. In interpreting this provision, we have stated that the standard for assessing commonness to living quarters should not be too restrictive. Larry A. Clendinen, 59 Comp.Gen. 600 (1980). Accordingly, we have held that a swimming pool, "ham" radio equipment and antenna, and ice makers are examples of equipment that are common to living quarters and that the fees for disconnecting them and connecting them up again at the new duty station residence are reimbursable miscellaneous expenses under section 302-3.1(b)(1). See Larry A. Clendinen, supra; Prescott A. Berry, 60 Comp.Gen. 285 (1981).

In this case, we similarly find that the water filtration and electronic security systems are common household equipment, the disconnection and reconnection fees for which may be reimbursed as miscellaneous expenses. The small amount included in the disconnection fee that was charged for repair of the area where the electronic security system was disconnected should not be construed as a structural alteration, the fees for which are not reimbursable, /2/ but should be considered as part of the disconnection of the system and thereby reimbursable. See Prescott A. Berry, supra at 287.

Mr. Anforth has also submitted receipts for postage fees incurred in mailing documents to the relocation services company handling his residence transfers. Although postage costs for some general correspondence associated with a transfer are not reimbursable as miscellaneous expenses, postage for correspondence with realtors and postage incident to providing change of address notification to financial institutions, subscriptions, etc., are considered to be reimbursable miscellaneous expenses. Timothy R. Glass, 67 Comp.Gen. 174 (1988); John J. Jennings, 63 Comp.Gen. 603 (1984). Thus, in this case the postage costs of corresponding with the relocation company, which we assume concerned the residence transactions occasioned by the employee's transfer, may be reimbursed. /3/

Accordingly, Mr. Anforth's claim for these expenses should be allowed, if otherwise reasonable.

/1/ The questions were submitted by a Certifying Officer, Office of Finance and Management, National Finance Center, Department of Agriculture.

/2/ See 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-3.1(c)(13).

/3/ The certifying officer denied the postage costs because no evidence had been presented that they were "required" by the relocation company, and cited our decision in James A. Holmes, B-241986, Aug. 15, 1991. However, that decision involved courier and messenger fees as incidental expenses under 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-6.2(f), which specifically provides that the charges be made for required services customarily paid by the party claiming them. No such requirement is contained in the miscellaneous expenses provision of 41 C.F.R. Part 302-3.