Matter of: Tadeusz L. Baran File: B-248314.2 Date: October 2, 1992

B-248314.2: Oct 2, 1992

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An employee who purchased a residence at his former duty station upon return from an overseas assignment is not entitled to reimbursement of real estate expenses. Is not applicable here since the employee returned to his old duty station in California. Baran was not entitled to real estate expenses of $4. Baran was employed by the Department of the Air Force at George Air Force Base. Which provides that reimbursement is limited to an employee who returns from an overseas station to an official station other than the one from which he was transferred when assigned to the foreign duty station. [3] Mr. C14000-3c states that "generally" an employee is required to serve a tour in a foreign area with the expectation of returning to the former official station in the nonforeign area.

Matter of: Tadeusz L. Baran File: B-248314.2 Date: October 2, 1992

An employee who purchased a residence at his former duty station upon return from an overseas assignment is not entitled to reimbursement of real estate expenses. The exception in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a) (4) (A), which provides reimbursement of real estates expenses when an employee returns from an overseas assignment to a different location in the United States, is not applicable here since the employee returned to his old duty station in California.

DECISION

Mr. Tadeusz L. Baran, a retired employee of the Department of the Air Force, appeals our Claims Group settlement. [1] The settlement determined that Mr. Baran was not entitled to real estate expenses of $4,485.95, incurred when he purchased a residence at his former duty station upon his return from an overseas assignment. [2] For the reasons that follow, we uphold the Claims Group settlement.

Mr. Baran was employed by the Department of the Air Force at George Air Force Base, California, both prior to and upon his return from an overseas tour of duty in Germany. He resided in rented quarters in the George Air Force Base area (Victorville) prior to his overseas tour, and purchased a residence in Victorville upon his return.

Both the Air Force and our Claims Group denied Mr. Baran's request for real estate purchase expenses on the basis of 2 Joint Travel Regulation (2 JTR), Para. C14000-3b, which provides that reimbursement is limited to an employee who returns from an overseas station to an official station other than the one from which he was transferred when assigned to the foreign duty station. [3]

Mr. Baran argues that 2 JTR Para. C14000-3c states that "generally" an employee is required to serve a tour in a foreign area with the expectation of returning to the former official station in the nonforeign area. He concludes that "generally" is defined as usually or for the most part, and therefore the real intent of the regulation is to prevent real estate speculation. Mr. Baran says that his first time purchase in Victorville does not constitute such an abuse since he rented in the George Air Force Base (Victorville) area prior to his overseas assignment.

Under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a) (4) (A) (1988), both the old and the new duty station 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. 54 Comp.Gen. 1006 (1975); 47 Comp.Gen. 93 (1967). In 1987, the law was amended to authorize real estate expenses in connection with an international transfer only under one set of circumstances: the employee must be transferred from a post of duty in the United States to an overseas station and then be transferred back to a different location in the United States. Donald E. Clay, B-242558, June 19, 1991, aff'd on reconsideration, Dec. 18, 1991; Frederick J. Donnelly, B-237607, May 21, l99O.

It is clear that the amended statutory provision does not apply to Mr. Baran since he transferred from an overseas location to the same location in the United States, namely George Air Force Base. The intent of 2 JTR Para. C1400-3(b), sited by Mr. Baran in support his claim, was to express the amended legislative exception to the statute. Unless Congress expressly states an intent to the contrary, the language of the statute must be construed according to its plain meaning. See, Mueller v. United States, 16 Cl.Ct. 608 (1989), aff'd, 892 F.2d 1050 (Fed. Cir. 1989), a case concerning an intetpretation of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(a) (4) (A) and in which the Court discussed the legal effect of the amendment.

Accordingly, we affirm our Claims Group determination and deny Mr. Baran's claim for reimbursement for real estate expenses.

1. Z-2867849, June 16, 1992.

2. The request was submitted by the Honorable Jerry Lewis, Member, United States House of Representatives.

3. Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-6.1(g) (1991).