Matter of: Sergeant Major Gerald P. Barnes, USA, Retired File: B-251039 Date: February 24, 1993

B-251039: Feb 24, 1993

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MILITARY PERSONNEL Relocation Household goods Weight restrictions Liability Computation A service member who was transferred overseas. Was authorized to ship his unaccompanied baggage and later. On retransfer he was only authorized a 4000-pound administrative weight allowance. 000 pounds) is authorized on retransfer. The proper charge to be assessed for excess net weight is limited to 635 pounds and all sums collected from him for a greater excess weight are to be reimbursed to him. DECISION This decision is in response to an appeal from our Claims Group's Settlement Z-2862314. Was proper. We conclude that the member was partially overcharged for his excess weight. Was transferred from Fort Bliss.

Matter of: Sergeant Major Gerald P. Barnes, USA, Retired File: B-251039 Date: February 24, 1993

MILITARY PERSONNEL Relocation Household goods Weight restrictions Liability Computation A service member who was transferred overseas, was authorized to ship his unaccompanied baggage and later, household goods to that location in two lots under separate authorizations specifying 1000 pounds and 4000 pounds. On retransfer he was only authorized a 4000-pound administrative weight allowance. Under paragraph 5-8c of Army Regulation 55-71 when a member's administrative weight allowance has been increased for overseas shipments, the weight allowance as increased (i.e., 5,000 pounds) is authorized on retransfer. Therefore, since he shipped 5635 pounds of goods on retransfer, the proper charge to be assessed for excess net weight is limited to 635 pounds and all sums collected from him for a greater excess weight are to be reimbursed to him.

DECISION This decision is in response to an appeal from our Claims Group's Settlement Z-2862314, Feb. 22, 1991, which determined that the household goods excess weight charge levied against Sergeant Major Gerald P. Barnes, USA, was proper. We conclude that the member was partially overcharged for his excess weight, for the following reasons.

Sergeant Major Barnes, by travel orders 241-143, dated November 14, 1984, was transferred from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Heidelberg, Germany. Since he had no dependents who would accompany him, he was authorized to ship 1000 pounds of unaccompanied baggage. Under that authority, he shipped 1250 pounds of baggage to Germany by Government Bill of Lading DP 669,696, dated February 12, 1985. The remainder of his household goods were placed in nontemporary storage in El Paso, Texas.

Following his arrival in Heidelberg, it was determined that the government quarters to which he was assigned were substandard. He sought and received permission to occupy quarters on the economy. However, since government provided furniture, other than major appliances, was unavailable, the member requested that he be authorized an additional weight allowance so that he could ship household goods from storage in El Paso to Heidelberg. His request was approved May 1, 1985, with that approved shipment limited to 4000 pounds. By GBL DP 738,294, dated June 26, 1985, he had 3560 pounds of household goods shipped from the nontemporary storage facility in El Paso to Heidelberg. At that point, 4810 pounds of unaccompanied baggage/household goods had been shipped to Germany in two lots at government expense under these separate authorities.

By travel orders dated October 5, 1987, Sergeant Major Barnes was transferred from Heidelberg, Germany, to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He was authorized to ship only 4000 pounds of those goods to his new duty station. Although his objection to being restricted to that weight limit was overruled by overseas authority, he shipped all his goods from Germany which by GBL CP 292,541, February 22, 1988, had a net weight of 5635 pounds. Since the DD Form 1299 issued to him only authorized a net weight of 4000 pounds, $1,218.24 was collected from his pay for the excess weight.

The member contends that the authorized weight allowance for his return shipment was in error. He claims that he should have been allowed 5000 pounds since that is the weight allowance authorized him when he shipped his goods to Germany. As a result, he should only have been charged for the weight of his household goods/unaccompanied baggage which exceeded 5000 pounds.

Under the provisions of 37 U.S.C. Sec. 406(b) and (c) (1988), a member who is ordered to perform a permanent change of station is entitled to transport his personal baggage and household effects at government expense to his new duty station within the weight allowances prescribed by the secretaries concerned. Implementing regulations governing Sergeant Barnes's transfer in 1985 were those contained in chapter 8 of Volume 1, Joint Travel Regulations (1 JTR), and Army Regulation (AR) 55-71, June 1, 1983.

Under the provisions of 1 JTR para. M8003-2a (ch. 378, Aug. 1, 1984) and paragraph 5-3 of AR 55-71, Sergeant Barnes's initial authorized weight allowance for shipment of personal goods was subject to an administrative restriction limiting the shipment to unaccompanied baggage. However, paragraph 5-8b of AR 55-71 permits overseas commanders to increase that weight restriction under certain specific circumstances. One such circumstance is when the member is authorized by his overseas commander to use private housing for the entire tour in the restricted area and without government furnishings support. That paragraph further provides that the authorization will specify the weight of the household goods authorized to be shipped and paragraph 5-8c of the same regulation provides that when a member's administrative weight allowance has been increased on unaccompanied baggage/household goods shipments to an overseas command, the same increase is authorized when assigned from that command.

The agency suggests that the limit of 4000 pounds approved on May 1, 1985, represented the total weight of all goods which could be shipped by him to Germany at government expense. We do not agree. Sergeant Barnes was initially authorized to ship 1000 pounds of unaccompanied baggage to Heidelberg, Germany. The approval granted him on May 1, 1985, specifically identified it as a request for an "additional weight allowance", and stated in paragraph 2 thereof, that "Approval is granted for shipment of household goods . . . under provisions of paragraph 5-8b(2). . . . Shipment is limited to 4000 pounds. . . ." The agency neither identified the combined weight of those goods (4810 pounds) as having exceeded his authorized weight allowance to Germany, nor suggested that Sergeant Barnes was responsible for any excess weight charges in connection with those two shipments to Germany. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that his combined unaccompanied baggage/household goods shipments to Germany were within the intended maximum weight allowance of 5000 pounds. In view thereof, we find he was entitled to ship those goods from Germany to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in 1987 under the same 5000-pound weight allowance and that the DD Form 1299 prepared for that shipment erroneously understated his maximum weight authorization by 1000 pounds.

This conclusion does not completely absolve Sergeant Barnes from all liability to the United States for charges for excess weight of household goods shipped. The record shows that the net weight of his goods shipped from Germany exceeded that 5000-pound limitation by 635 pounds. There- fore, it was proper to charge him for that excess weight. Accordingly, the amount that has already been collected from Sergeant Barnes for a net excess weight of 1635 pounds is to be adjusted and he is to be reimbursed for the difference.