Matter of: J. Lynn Isaacson File: B-250203 Date: March 1, 1993

B-250203: Mar 1, 1993

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The weight limitation is statutory. There is no authority to exceed it notwithstanding that the carrier may have underestimated the weight. DECISION The issue presented is whether Mr. Isaacson was authorized a permanent change of station from Oroville. The Government Bill of Lading (GBL) method was chosen and he utilized the services of a commercial household goods carrier to move his household goods between his old and his new duty station. The shipment was later weighed and weight certificates indicated the correct weight to be 20. Since the shipment was 2. Isaacson was held to be indebted to the government for the excess cost of $571.34. In the event he is held liable for the excess weight.

Matter of: J. Lynn Isaacson File: B-250203 Date: March 1, 1993

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Relocation Household goods Weight restrictions Liability Waiver An employee may not be relieved of his debt for excess weight of his household goods shipped incident to a permanent change of station. The weight limitation is statutory, and there is no authority to exceed it notwithstanding that the carrier may have underestimated the weight. The agency correctly determined the employee's indebtedness in accordance with the Federal Travel Regulation, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-8.3(b)(5) (1991), based on a ratio of the excess weight to the total weight of the shipment applied to the total charges for the shipment.

DECISION The issue presented is whether Mr. J. Lynn Isaacson, an employee of the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, may be relieved from an indebtedness for the excess cost of a shipment of household goods which exceeded the statutory maximum weight.[1] For the reasons that follow, we hold that Mr. Isaacson may not be relieved from the indebtedness.

Mr. Isaacson was authorized a permanent change of station from Oroville, Washington, to Grand Coulee, Washington. The Government Bill of Lading (GBL) method was chosen and he utilized the services of a commercial household goods carrier to move his household goods between his old and his new duty station. The GBL for the shipment indicates an estimated weight of 18,000 pounds. However, the shipment was later weighed and weight certificates indicated the correct weight to be 20,900 pounds. Since the shipment was 2,900 pounds over the statutory maximum of 18,000 pounds stated in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(a)(2) (1988), and the implementing Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-8.2(a) (1991), Mr. Isaacson was held to be indebted to the government for the excess cost of $571.34.

Mr. Isaacson protests the indebtedness on the basis that the carrier underestimated his weight and on allegedly questionable weight certificates. Mr. Isaacson also says that, in the event he is held liable for the excess weight, the agency has incorrectly billed him since the carrier advised that the excess cost to the government for 2,090 pounds was only $394.33, and not $571.34.[2]

This Office has long held that erroneous estimates or representations made by a carrier's agents do not provide grounds for authorizing an employee to exceed the statutory weight allowance in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(a)(2). Dr. John M. Dyer, 67 Comp.Gen. 171 (1988), aff'd, B-223799.2, May 13, 1991; Gustavo R. Martinez, B-227581, Feb. 16, 1988. Further, in the absence of proof to the contrary, this Office will accept public weighmaster's tickets as valid and accurate, especially when the administrative agency has made a like determination. John V. Olson, B-219158, Jan. 13, 1986; Dennis O. Williams, B-207393, May 23, 1983.

As to Mr. Isaacson's contention that the method of determining his indebtedness is incorrect, the FTR provides that the employee shall reimburse the government for the cost of transportation and other charges applicable to the excess weight, computed from the total charges according to the ratio of excess weight to the total weight of the shipment. FTR 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-8.3(b)(5) (1991); James Knapp, B-216723, Aug. 21, 1985. The record shows that the agency computed the amount correctly in accordance with the FTR, utilizing a ratio of .1388 times the total charges.

Accordingly, Mr. Isaacson's request for relief from indebtedness is denied.

1. The request was submitted by Sandra L. Inglefield, Authorized Certifying Officer, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver Office, reference: D- 7733.

2. The carrier arrived at this conclusion by applying the line haul rate to the excess weight of 2,090 pounds.