Matter of: Guenther Moehrke File: B-252142 Date: July 6, 1993

B-252142: Jul 6, 1993

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The record indicates that the employee was at least partially responsible for the non-issuance of the order. Was serving the final year of a 3-year tour of duty from March 1988 to March 1991 in Hoensbroek. His position was eliminated in a reduction-in-force (RIF). Is an approximately 170-mile round trip. This transfer was effective August 28. Moehrke was notified by letter that unless he signed a transportation agreement by January 22. Which would have required him to remain in the government service for a minimum of 12 months. In March 1991 simply extend the tour in which he already was serving. The reason for this difference is a rule. The Army is responsible for failing to issue him PCS orders.

Matter of: Guenther Moehrke File: B-252142 Date: July 6, 1993

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Travel Commuting expenses Liability An employee claims mileage for driving 80 miles each way to his new duty station because, he alleges, the agency failed to issue him the necessary order to relocate. However, as a general rule, employees may not be reimbursed for normal home-to-work travel, and the record indicates that the employee was at least partially responsible for the non-issuance of the order. Accordingly, the claim may not be allowed.

DECISION Mr. Guenther Moehrke appeals our Claims Group settlement, Z- 2867466, June 30, 1992, denying his claim for reimbursement for daily travel expenses between his residence and his duty station. We affirm the settlement.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Moehrke, a civilian employee of the Department of the Army, was serving the final year of a 3-year tour of duty from March 1988 to March 1991 in Hoensbroek, the Netherlands, when, in August 1990, his position was eliminated in a reduction-in-force (RIF). The Army placed him in a position in Rheinberg, Germany effective September 16, 1990. However, Mr. Moehrke did not relocate to his new station, but instead commuted between Hoensbroek and Rheinberg, which, he states, is an approximately 170-mile round trip. In March 1991, when Mr. Moehrke completed his 3-year service agreement, the Army notified Mr. Moehrke that his duty station would be changed to another location in Germany. Rather than accept this reassignment, Mr. Moehrke chose to return to Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, the duty station from which he had transferred to Hoensbroek. This transfer was effective August 28, 1991.

The record shows that Mr. Moehrke requested permanent-change of-station (PCS) orders on September 7, 1990. However, because Mr. Moehrke did not sign a transportation agreement, the Army did not issue him PCS orders.

On January 10, 1991, Mr. Moehrke was notified by letter that unless he signed a transportation agreement by January 22, 1991, he would lose his
entitlement to relocate to Rheinberg at government expense. This letter
explained that the agreement, which would have required him to remain in
the government service for a minimum of 12 months, would effectively
extend his tour of duty to September 1991 (from September 16, 1990, the
effective date of his transfer to Rheinberg). The letter stated that, upon
signing up for another 2-year tour of duty, he would be eligible for
renewal agreement travel (RAT), which could be taken between September
1991 and February 1992. In the alternative, the letter explained that Mr.
Moehrke could forgo the PCS move--continuing to commute to Rheinberg--and
in March 1991 simply extend the tour in which he already was serving, in
which case he would be immediately eligible for RAT. The reason for this
difference is a rule, since changed, which prohibited RAT within a year of
a PCS.

Mr. Moehrke did not sign a transportation agreement, and, as we noted,
later chose to relocate to Warren AFB. Mr. Moehrke alleges that no one
told him he needed to sign a transportation agreement until he received
the January 10 letter and, therefore, the Army is responsible for failing
to issue him PCS orders. In the absence of such orders, he reasons, he is
entitled to mileage costs for his daily commute to Rheinberg.

According to the agency report on this matter, Mr. Moehrke was informed
of the need to sign a transportation agreement, but he chose not to sign
the agreement because he wanted to exercise his RAT at the end of the
school year. The agency informs us informally that all employees are
briefed on the options available to them because of a RIF. Mr. Moehrke
states that he recalls attending a general briefing in August for all
employees affected by the RIF, but he states that this was before he had
been offered a position in Rheinberg and that he was not informed that he
would need to sign a transportation agreement incident to that transfer.

OPINION

We start with the general rule that employees are expected to get to and
from their posts of duty on their own time and at their own expense. See
B-246970, May 21, 1992, citing Richard H. Foster, B-202370, Apr. 2, 1984
and Local 3369, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
B-210697, Sept. 29, 1983. The application of this rule would prevent
reimbursement of mileage for Mr. Moehrke's daily commute.

While Mr. Moehrke argues that the agency's failure to issue him timely
PCS orders left him with no choice, we are not persuaded that the Army
bears responsibility for not issuing Mr. Moehrke's PCS orders. When given
the opportunity in January 1991 to sign a transportation agreement and
relocate to Rheinberg--and thus stop commuting--Mr. Moehrke chose to
continue commuting until his initial 3-year tour expired and to then
request PCS orders back to the United States. This supports the agency's
assertion that, in September 1990, Mr. Moehrke chose not to sign a
transportation agreement for personal reasons.

Accordingly, the Claims Group's disallowance of his claim is sustained.