B-249506, 1992 Mr. Syahrul R. Abidin:

B-249506: Jan 1, 1992

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Is advised that this Office is without authority to allow air travel for himself and his family since more than 2 years have elapsed and their travel from Washington. We are unable to render a decision in this matter since our authority to do so is limited to requests for decisions by a disbursing or certifying official or the head of an agency on a question involving a payment they will make or a voucher presented for certification. You were employed by VOA from June 4. You were issued Travel Authorization No. 5440189-8. The completion date of your contract with VOA was the date of your separation. That the case is still in process in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

B-249506, 1992 Mr. Syahrul R. Abidin:

DIGEST

Mr. Syahrul R. Abidin 220 South Regester Street Baltimore, Maryland 21231

Dear Mr. Abidin:

We refer to your letter of July 20, 1992, with enclosures, in which you request a decision concerning your entitlement to payment by the Voice of America (VOA), United States Information Agency (USIA), of air travel for yourself, your spouse, and three children to Jakarta, Indonesia.

We are unable to render a decision in this matter since our authority to do so is limited to requests for decisions by a disbursing or certifying official or the head of an agency on a question involving a payment they will make or a voucher presented for certification. However, we offer the following information which may be of assistance to you.

You were employed by VOA from June 4, 1984, to February 28, 1988. Upon separation, you were issued Travel Authorization No. 5440189-8, dated February 17, 1988, for payment by the government of air travel for you and your family and transportation of your household goods from Washington, D.C., to Jakarta, Indonesia. The Travel Authorization stated that:

"All expenses related to this travel must be incurred no later than 6 months after the effective completion date of contract with VOA."

The completion date of your contract with VOA was the date of your separation, February 28, 1988.

You state that, after your separation from VOA, you filed a complaint of discrimination based on race, religion, and national origin, and that the case is still in process in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. You report that, in processing your case, you have been required to be present in the United States and, therefore, have had to postpone your travel back to Jakarta, Indonesia. The original airline tickets were canceled by the airline company and the money refunded to USIA. You also state that your spouse's mother is hospitalized in critical condition with cancer in Jakarta and that your spouse should return to Jakarta as soon as possible. You request that this Office make an exception to the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-1.6 (1992), so that the airline tickets may be reissued by USIA.

Section 1474(a)(1) and (2), title 22, United States Code, 1988, provides for payment by the Director, USIA, of the travel and transportation expenses of aliens employed abroad for service (relating to the translation or narration of colloquial speech in foreign languages or the preparation and production of foreign language programs) within the United States and of such expenses for their dependents to and from the Unite2d States.

Section 302-1.6 of the FTR provides that:

"All travel, including that for the immediate family and transportation, including that for household goods . . . shall be accomplished as soon as possible. The maximum time for beginning allowable travel and transportation shall not exceed 2 years from the employee's transfer or appointment . . ."

With respect to separation travel, this Office has long held that the employee's travel must be clearly incident to the termination of his assignment and that the travel should commence within a reasonable time after the assignment has been terminated. We have recognized that an agency may, by regulation, define a period shorter than 2 years within which separation travel should normally commence. The USIA has established a 6-month period for a separated employee to travel and transport his household goods back to his home country.

Here, while the transportation of your household goods was completed within the 6-month period allowed in your travel authorization, more than 4 years have elapsed since your separation from USIA, and the travel of you and your family has not commenced.

The Federal Travel Regulation is issued pursuant to statute, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5707 (1988), and, therefore, has the full force and effect of law. This Office is without authority to change, waive, or modify the provisions of the FTR.

Accordingly, there appears to be no basis upon which this Office may authorize an exception to the FTR which would allow USIA to reissue the airline tickets for the travel of you and your family to Jakarta, Indonesia.

Robert L. Higgins Associate General Counsel

cc:The Honorable Barbara Mikulski United States Senate

Mr. David L. Atha, Chief Administrative Operations Division Voice of America United States Information Agency B-249506